Tuesday, March 16, 2010

plugging the dam


My husband looked at me like I had three heads. If I'm being honest, that happens a lot.

We were in the middle of the 'Construction Zone' at our local children's museum. The area was set up with various stations - each featuring a block of wood upon which the kids could test-drive a particular wood-working tool. The kids wandered through, sawing and filing and drilling into the wood.

I stood with my camera phone in front of one of the blocks of wood, waiting to get an unobstructed shot. It wasn't easy as kids milled around the small space, bouncing off one another like little billiard balls. 

"Um, hon?" my husband began. "What are you doing?"

I ducked around a tow-headed toddler.

"Taking a picture," I answered.

"Of the WOOD?" he asked incredulously.

"Yes, I like what it says on it."

"Ok then."

He moved on, helping our older daughter manage a hand drill.

He's learned not to ask. 


Last night, I went to a meeting. I am on the steering committee of a local educational advocacy group. We met to discuss our priorities and strategies and to attempt to divide the workload. I left exhausted. Not just physically, but emotionally exhausted. 

A woman is stretched flat across a dam wall. She is spread-eagle like a rock-climber halfway up a sheer mountain face. Each of her hands and feet are pressed against cracks in the dam. 

Water bubbles up from a newly formed crack. She repositions a hand to stem the flow. Water floods through the hole that she's abandoned. The process is repeated again and again. The water just keeps coming. 

This was the image in my head as I drove home.

I start to feel defeated at these advocacy meetings. Every time. There's just so God-damned much to do. Where do we start? What do we prioritize when EVERYTHING feels so urgent? What part of our kids' support puzzle could possibly be any less important than any other? Which of the potentially slashed resources do we look to save first? 

I knew I needed to write for Hopeful Parents today. But I was feeling far more overwhelmed last night than hopeful. I wasn't sure what I could write.

But then as I pulled into my driveway, I remembered something. Something that had struck me over the weekend. Something that had stood out in the middle of the chaos at the Children's Museum. Something that had moved me to take a picture. Something that perhaps, somewhere down deep, I knew I'd be needing to hear this week.



If you look carefully, you can see the outline of a milk bottle emerging from the wood. The instructions read ...


File down to the dotted lines. You won't finish in one visit but over time, we can get this done together.




Jess can be found at Diary of a Mom, where she writes about life with her two beautiful daughters *Katie* and *Brooke* and her husband, *Luau*.

Please note that Jess has recently changed her blog's  URL (along with her family's names) in order to restore her their online anonymity. Please remember to change your bookmarks to the new address.

Thank you! 







  1. Oh my goodness the crazy pictures I have started to take when something seems even remotely "blogworthy"! For some reason technical stuff is preventing me from seeing this one (darn it) but I get the point, and I love it! Many of us moms have trouble delegating/sharing the load, and it's important to remember that if each of us takes a turn "filing" the exhaustion may be just a tiny bit less crushing.

  2. Oh, no! Can't see your photo! But I love the message. One hole at a time.

  3. I needed to hear this today...thank you!!!

  4. Lives, all lives, are built like stone steps, one stone at a time to the top. While it may feel overwhelming at times it is always worth the effort. You, my dear daughter, are the best stairway stone builder I have ever known....

  5. Yes. Together, over time, we can. Love.

  6. It takes a village. For. Sure.