Boys in the Bed and Calm in the Storm

This stage, the baldy head, the new repeated sounds – ba ba ba – the baby in studied finger motion to pick up the leaf fallen from big brothers’ shoes, this stage with baby is magic, and I see it. Hours go by, and I haven’t moved. My body is stuck with one hip jutted way out and my hand with finger pointed out, my eyebrow cocked. All of me says, “You boys better behave!” When I see the boy in the top of the playhouse whacking a power line with a limb, all the blood leaves my arms, and I pray to Jesus while simultaneously hollering that they had better find their common sense before it gets shocked into them.

What mother knows what she’s doing? This is my fourth boy, and I ought to be a pro. And with some things I confess that I am. I am professional at knowing this is only a stage. It is my profession to tell myself, “hold on. hold on. hold on.” I go to bed at night and feel I might wake up a decade older. Time is zooming. As a mother of 4, I know this – though not fully even still.

I stand at this same kitchen sink where grandma stood. I am in slow motion, hips gradually growing rounder, and the boys are in fast forward zooming ahead – in and out for truckloads of snacks, an inch taller at every entrance. Voices will boom in no time.

Day in and out feels the same, and I haven’t found my stride. The house is a ruckus. My kitchen is dirty when I go to bed, and the ants know it. I don’t know how to grab it all by the reigns and steer it anymore. This is for dear life.

After company the other night, we left the counter covered in dishes. We turned out the lights, house finally silent enough to notice the wind. As I asked Seth what the weather should be, we heard a boom, thunder and a transformer blown. The air sucked up a little and the house held its breath. Hint of green, Seth’s phone read tornado warning in our county.

We ran upstairs. Yanked up the smiling baby. Shoving at the big boys, they finally budged. Seth threw one over his shoulder. Down in the musky basement, one sat on the deep freeze. My heart pounded, hands on their chests, wrapping myself as best I could, and then Seth noticed the bad part of the storm was nowhere near us.

Back upstairs, after being scared to death by their own parents, my boys piled in our bed. Seth and Isaac slept at our feet. Ian, Jude, and I curled at the top, baby at my breast.

The window was open, and rain filled the tiny pond outside to overflowing. Wide awake, I was fully aware. Midnight and suckling baby and the four snoring in different intervals in this one bed.

How exhausted I am. How they love me and have no thought of curling next to me under one sheet that separates us from the wind, from tomorrow, and from coming Summers and future broken hearts. Imagination at ease, I thanked God for the weather and for my little corner of the bed.

Our little boat on the sea, waves coming at the pace of dreams.

About me


What I Knew In My Dying Day: a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post by Tara Owens
August 19, 2015
Condemnation on the Molehill
June 08, 2015
Tools for the Highly Sensitive Mother: An Introduction
April 27, 2015
The Uncouth: The Hormonal
May 12, 2014
What Mothers Me
April 01, 2014
Learning How to Eat (and a giveaway of Mom in the Mirror)
May 20, 2013
A Haines Home Companion: Alter
February 22, 2013
A Haines Home Companion: Motherhood and Anti-Depression
February 08, 2013
A Haines Home Companion: On the Trail
January 25, 2013


Reply March 22, 2012

Oh gorgeous. I only have one (and one 11 weeks away). Easily overwhelmed, still learning to know it's only a stage, and petrified of what bringing another into our midst will look like - wondering if I'll ever find a stride? Thankful for people like you, who write the real and remind me that others are in the trenches too.

    Reply March 22, 2012

    And that's what you do for me, too.

    Reply March 22, 2012

    ditto to this. There if comfort in hearing someone say they're a pro at knowing it's only a stage. It means to me that I don't need to master the stage... just know that it is. Thank you :)

Reply March 22, 2012

this is beautiful. i wonder if somehow you are the ship? your boys roll raging all around because they trust that mom is safe, sturdy to sail on - poop decks be damned.

    Reply March 22, 2012

    amen and amen.

      LoveFeast Table
      Reply March 22, 2012

      Totally the truth! I have four boys too (and one girl) and as they've turned into teenagers, I no longer have them sneaking into my bed at night, but I'll have them sit next to me and ask "scratch my back"...or come up from behind and hug me. Especially after their long school days. I know I'm still their safe place...their constant. And for a moment, I'm back there on my corner of the bed. (But, don't worry, I'm not still cleaning up their poop...that part changes!)

        Reply March 22, 2012

        Well, that's encouraging - on many levels!

Reply March 22, 2012

oh, oh, oh. I love the way you write, the poetry and the prose mingled together. Every visit here is like cool water and fire ice at the same time. I thought at six I'd have it all together, my four boys, two girls, and still--not quite finding the footing I thought I should have by now.

My favorite glimpse:
"I stand at this same kitchen sink where grandma stood. I am in slow motion, hips gradually growing rounder, and the boys are in fast forward zooming ahead – in and out for truckloads of snacks, an inch taller at every entrance. Voices will boom in no time."

Yes. And for all the weather, there's no other place we'd rather be. Just lovely.

    Reply March 22, 2012

    Yes. Sometimes I want in my own Mama's bed.

    Thanks for encouraging me, Joy.

Reply March 22, 2012

you write good words, amber. this woman's journey of rounding hips and doled-out snacks and messy kitchens and overpopulated beds is the real thing, isn't it? i love the way you wear your mother-hood.

    Reply March 22, 2012

    Thank you, Katie.

    Oh yeah. This is the real, at least for now.

Kelly @ Love Well
Reply March 22, 2012

Oh how I relate. Some days, I walk the path grasping. It's too much, too fast, I can't find my balance, much less hold on to the rope.

But then those diamond moments come, when time stands still and I see the beauty and I'm left speechless. Suddenly, all the crazy makes sense.

It's the craziest thing.

    Reply March 22, 2012

    Yes, and in the strangest moments, everything seems as it really is - a good thing. This stage is hard, but they're still coming to our beds when they are scared. I am so thankful for this short time.

    In the middle of the night, when they're waking us up, my gratitude might wane a little. :)

Reply March 22, 2012

oh that was beautiful and got me all teary eyed - thanks for sharing xox

Reply March 22, 2012

What a perfect moment in time. They're so fleeting. We lose moments so quickly. What a beautiful way to capture it.

    Reply March 22, 2012

    If only I could do it more often, you know?

Reply March 22, 2012

The heartache of watching them grow is only balmed by the sweet pride in watching them grow. Love you. <3

    Reply March 22, 2012

    Yes, that's it. I just don't want to wish any of this away - especially the sleepless nights.

    I LOVE you, too. seriously.

Reply March 22, 2012

Dang, Amber. This is How To Write. Right here. Powerful imagery beckoning deeper emotions. Well done.

    Reply March 22, 2012

    thanks girl, I appreciate the encouragement. I really do.

Traci @ Ordinary Inspirations
Reply March 22, 2012

So very beautiful dear Amber. Please keep writing. The end.

    Reply March 22, 2012

    Ha! The thing about this stage is that it is oh so very hard to keep writing. For me, at least.

Reply March 22, 2012

I need to pop in and say that I don't snore. That part of the story was COMPLETELY fabricated.

    Reply March 22, 2012

    Mr. Haines, you are like the symphony conductor.

    But I'll go ahead and confess. I don't snore, but I do breathe rather loudly at night - so I've been told. ;)

    Emily @ The Pilot's Wife
    Reply March 22, 2012


erika @ the life artist
Reply March 22, 2012

This post just filled and warmed me with that unspeakable happiness and I was all the way there with every word and this line: " . . . better find their common sense before it gets shocked into them." I'm certain I've said my own version 100 and more times. GAH!

    Reply March 22, 2012

    I love how we live in the same world. Come to our house with your boys!

Brandee Shafer
Reply March 22, 2012

Gorgeous. We'll look back, I know, and miss the craziness: maybe even the smashed Trix in the carpet.

Carolyn Weber
Reply March 22, 2012

I have little girl, twin boys, another baby on the way ... thanks to you, I can suddenly see the poetry of ants in my kitchen, even the storm's threat, and the dearness of interrupted sleep, snores and all. (I, too, slept with a little body huddled against me last night ... usually do). This was a treat in the midst of loosing my reigns yet again today - will be sure to come back. Thanks Amber!

    diana trautwein
    Reply March 23, 2012

    Caro - meet Amber! Amber, meet Caro - a favorite real-life person of mine - and an accomplished author. Check out "Surprised by Oxford."

    Amber - this is delicious. And true. And some of it you will miss...but not all. Most certainly, not the cereal grimed into the carpet. And you are doing such a good, good job. Yes, you are. Hands on rounded hips and all. (and believe me when I tell you truly have NO CLUE what rounded hips are about. NONE.)

    Next time, tell Seth to read the entire weather report. :>) But would have missed out on this safe ship in the night experience. And so would we.

    So - thanks, Seth. Well done.

Reply March 22, 2012

oh. mercy. heavens. and for goodness sake.
this rocky boat has got me all off course and unsure of my own feet as I walk.
His anchor holds us fast. despite the fact that we plunge into docks. rock steady.

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting
Reply March 22, 2012

Oh. My. Goodness. Yes. Yes to all of it, I am there, but with 4 girls and 3 boys, to include a very cranky newborn grunting girl who hoses us in breastfed poo with gas and spit-up and the sleeplessness-induced blurry eyes. I can keep up with laundry and dishes daily (mostly), but the rest of the house be damned. Neverending crazy, yet, I cannot and will not entertain it ever ending. Yes.

Alia Joy
Reply March 22, 2012

Love this. This journey of motherhood and all the moments strung along form something so beautiful even in the mundane. Especially in the mundane of sleeping boys and messy kitchens, sleepless nights, and constant motion. What a blessing.

Kristen@Chasing Blue Skies
Reply March 22, 2012

Oh Amber, I love your mama heart and how your words spill love and contentment. May it be so for all us struggling, striving moms! Love you, friend. You are soul beautiful and then some.

melissa@ the pleated polka dot
Reply March 23, 2012

"what mother knows what she is doing?"

not this one. and i am thankful that you speak up so i know i am not alone in this i'm-just-flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-and-thankful-for-god's-grace journey! as always your writing is beautiful and encouraging and makes me want to sit down with you and have a cup of coffee and talk about motherhood and the beautiful messiness of it all.

Joy @ Joy In This Journey
Reply March 23, 2012

It is so good to know that others leave their kitchens dirty, counters piled high, and go to sleep feeling a decade older than when they woke up that morning. The only thing I'm a pro at is ignoring messes and giving hugs.

Kaitlin Curtice
Reply March 23, 2012

How exhausted I am. How they love me and have no thought of curling next to me under one sheet that separates us from the wind, from tomorrow, and from coming Summers and future broken hearts. Imagination at ease, I thanked God for the weather and for my little corner of the bed.

Love you, sweet sister.
We face these storms together, in waves, in seasons, and we come out alive and well.

Darcy Wiley @ Message in a Mason Jar
Reply March 23, 2012

All my childhood I was afraid of tornadoes, hunkering down in the dry bathtub while my dad stood calm on the porch watching the storm clouds churn. My cautious firstborn listens at night, wondering if the wind will swirl our way. I was writing a draft of some of these thoughts a few weeks ago and went to the standby Scripture of Jesus and his friends in the storm-tossed boat on the Sea of Galilee. I like what you wrote about "waves coming at the pace of dreams". That thought helps me understand this passage a little better. The picture of you and your boys crowded all in one bed and snoring, maybe that's what Jesus was hoping for in his friends, a trust that begets rest even before the wind has been muzzled, even while the water is still rushing.

imperfect prose
Reply March 23, 2012

i love how you love on your boys, friend. xo

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