The Vortex

Motherhood is a vortex.

A swirling, spinning mass of chaos and confusion and deep, blood-sucking love.

And don’t forget it can go from chaos to love in a matter of nanoseconds.  Because, as a Mama, you live in nanoseconds.  You become intimately acquainted with them.  You can almost hear them breathe.

Motherhood is the way you can lock yourself in a bedroom to get away from it all, seething and hot with tears.  And then in the next moment, transform into a puddle of heart-wrenching and oozing gratitude as you cradle your child against your chest and watch their eyelashes slowly close to greet sleep.

Seriously, this shit is not made for the faint of heart.

Motherhood should come with a warning label, in big bold letters:





Kaia intrigues me.  She is my mirror, the one I can sink into with ease though her stubbornness and often-whiny nature gets my goat.  When I lay next to her, the practice of methodically wrapping silky pieces of her hair around my fingers is soothing and peaceful.  She is a fiery healer.  And impeccably logical.  We read each other’s minds.   Her level of comprehension for abstract ideas or objects amazes me, though I’ve never spent much time with an almost five year old (thus, the possibility exists that her aptitude is entirely normal).   Once, she asked us what those “little lights” in the middle of the road were.   Jason and I struggled to explain what a reflector was and how it functioned and how it wasn’t mechanical at all, but reflected light.   We did our best and she said, “Oh, I see.  Kind of like water does that too”.

My Indigo is my mellow tornado, a tender soul with raging impatience.    Her blue eyes can slice through your heart and transform anger into butter.  But she also knows how to throw the most outrageous, rudest tantrums I’ve seen.  Today, it was forcefully chucking all of the packages of gum from the stand at the Fresh-n-Easy checkout line onto the floor while screaming and wailing and turning red.   Yet during naps, I rock her and sing to her and she peers from behind her “Superfuzz” blanket and reaches to stroke my face with the softest touch.   Simply irresistible.  She nods with understanding when I ask if she remembers being born and her eyes reveal it all.  She remembers.


An incident from last week:

I’m lying on the top bunk with Kaia, coaxing her to sleep.  The room is pitch black.  Jason and Indigo lay beneath us on the bottom bunk, quiet.   Kaia peeks out the window and while lying back down, brings the back of her head full force into my forehead (obviously not remembering I was there).

I let out a piercing scream – part shock, part pain – and oddly enough her fan light turns on.  It is only controlled by remote.  Apparently my yells have the same wavelength frequency as the remote control.    Should I be impressed or embarrassed?

You know those times when you get hurt and for some reason you just cry?  As in, the tears simply spring forth uncontrollably?  This was one of those times.   I immediately began to sob.   Jason, concerned, calls out from the bottom bunk “You OK???”

Through my sobs, I tell him yes.

My chest heaves and the tears flow.  Kaia immediately comes in close and encases me in a hug, obviously worried.

I tell her, in between cries, that I’m OK and I know it was an accident but damn, it hurt.

She lays her head on my chest, and says sweetly “Mama, sometimes when I cry, my heart gets hiccups like yours too”. And it was then that my tears began to transform into ones of bittersweet gratitude.

She then asks softly “Mama, is the baby OK?”.

“Yes, honey, yes.  The baby is safe”, I respond.

I feel her small, warm hand rubbing my belly and ask what she is doing. “Just massaging the baby, mama”.

My dear, oldest daughter.  She is kindness and tenderness and empathy all balled into one little 4 and a half year old.  I am melted.

Indigo proceeds to climb into the top bunk with us.  There we are, three of us and a pregnant belly, squished into a twin sized bunk bed.  Indigo snuggles into the crook of my arm.

“Mama, what happened?” she asks through her binky.

I explain the accident.

“Can I feel your head?” she asks as she places a hand on my forehead.  “Oh, you’re OK, Mama” she reassures me as if she diagnosed me with the magic touch of her hand.

I kiss the top of each of their heads – one amber, one honey – over and over.

Minutes later, Kaia breaks the silence by randomly asking “Mama, do dogs toot?”



“Just like we do”

“But I’ve never seen my dog toot”

“Well, he does.  Now, time for night night”.


Weeks ago, I snuggled with Kaia before bed and asked that she go lay with Daddy in her very own big girl bed.  She protested over and over and finally, while in my arms and a little weepy, she explained “Mama, I just want to be with someone whose eyes match mine”.

Chocolate brown.

I was silent, knowing in that moment that resistance was futile.  How could I argue that?  I pulled her closer, smelled her sweetness, and she drifted peacefully off to sleep.


27 Weeks.

Baby #3 on Left, Indigo on Right

Welcome into the circus, little baby.   We are very silly, love to sing, and have a house that often wafts of brownies and cookies.  We are sometimes mean, but always apologetic.   We embrace anger as much as we do kindness and honesty.  We are overworked, underpaid, overtired, and often grumpy.

But we are family.

And we belong.

And so do you.


14 Comments Add yours

  1. You make me feel more human, sweet leigh. For the immense sigh of relief when the house empties on daycare’s morning. Having this time makes me a better mother. Reading this makes me leave behind the guilt I feel at sighing. After I dance around like WOOOHOOOO! Thank you for that. xo

  2. Trish says:

    Leigh, you are amazing. I managed to make it through 98% of that without crying, until I got to the part welcoming #3. That imagery is so beautiful, and that baby is so blessed.

    I had a similar incident with an injury the other day. I heard Leo yelling and ran into the kitchen only to find out he was yelling because he had managed to shake all the water out of his sippy cup into a big puddle on the floor. Of course I didn’t realize that until I had slipped in said puddle and my butt hit the floor with such force that it sent waves of pain through my entire back. I just burst into tears. Summer came in and said, “Mama, let me hold you.” Same thing, the tears of shock and pain transformed into emotion and love and gratitude.

    Thank you for sharing your life. You are an inspiration!!

  3. mb says:

    this is amazingly beautiful, universal…
    i began the tears within word 25.
    i needed this today.

    we all belong.

    i love you.

    baby three opens up your throat and it all comes out…


  4. luannemacy says:

    Sweet sweet sweet, your girls are just amazing. I hear you, lovely lady. Life is crazy. Motherhood is the hardest work in the world. Hugs!

  5. jeanette says:

    Add me to the list of criers. I always tear up at the poignancy of your posts – and you always make me want another. I can deal eaier with the tears than with the baby thing 😉

  6. Yep, I was crying too. Although turning the fan on with your shriek made me laugh out loud!

  7. Kay says:

    I cried too. I love, love, love that you so GET what being a mother is all about. The pain, the joy, the wonder… I wish I were your neighbor.

  8. Chelsea says:

    Laughing, crying, your posts echo the emotions of motherhood…Some days I feel myself being pulled into the blackness of the vortex of motherhood demands (husband out of town, kids cranky, house messy)- and it only takes a word from my kids to pull me out – something simple and pure like sammy coming up to me and saying “I like your shirt mommy”… good thing I love roller coaster rides….

  9. Janis says:

    heart-meltingly beautiful, as always, sweet and powerful mama.
    Your belly is gorgeous! xo

  10. Joy says:

    Leigh, this is so great, I love it all– how is it that you capture it right everytime? The hurts and the beauty, the mundane and the cozy, I am just getting so excited for your new baby and for all of you. Five is a really nice big warm family, at least it was for us, and your girls seem SO “onboard” with the new baby and your attitude is just perfect, whatever that means, I say that it is perfect and you all are!

    Climbing out of my own bunk bed after smashing in there kissing two golden heads back and forth back and forth, I SO get it.

  11. Oh how I can’t wait for those moments… until then, I’ll cherish yours. 🙂 XOXO

  12. Katie says:

    Your description of motherhood is SO spot on! I feel the same way!

  13. lindsay says:

    I love your words 🙂

  14. Dena says:

    Leigh, I met you long ago at Kim’s when our first borns were babes. I instantly fell in mama love with you because of our shared love of babywearing, breastfeeding and bedsharing. I just stumbled on your blog from facebook (I was checking to see how far along you are). I love your blog, you put into lovely words exactly how I feel. It’s nice to connect, if only over the internet, with other mamas who feel so passionately about their kids. Congrats on your pg, enjoy this lovely gift.

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