It was a night just like every other night.
I got the crew (my three boys) home after work, we filed into the house, and I met everyone’s spitfire demands like a barista at Starbucks on a Monday morning. We played, I attempted to feed them “dinner” (aka: frozen cheese filled pretzel bites. That’s right. Just call me Martha), and then we played a little bit more.
I half-way thwarted the usual 8 o’clock crack attack that happens every night near bedtime. You know what I’m talking about. The moment when your child(ren) sense that bedtime is looming, and so they lose their actual minds, strip down to their underwear, and start running around in circles screaming at the top of their lungs while they slap each other on the butt, laughing like hyenas because really, what isn’t more awesome than that!? Or is that just mine?
With the crack attack slightly averted, the silly rascals were herded up the stairs and into the bathtub. I successfully completed the cleaning process for three sets of bodies and three sets of teeth, despite the fact they thought they were a family of whales doing a show at Sea World. Soaked and exhausted, we made it into the bedroom where trying to dress them felt a bit more like wrestling pigs in the mud than preparing children for bedtime, but we survived.
It was a normal night. As I dressed two of the three, my youngest peed all over the bed and then slapped himself in the penis while the others laughed like they were at a Kevin Hart show. I changed the sheet, cleaned up the pee and my son, got everyone situated, and took a breath.
Then it was book time, prayers, tucking them all into their respective spots, thousands of kisses and “night night, I love you’s,” lights out, and I WAS FREE!
Or so I had hoped.
After a few more rounds of “Mommy, I think I pooped; I’m thirsty; I forgot to give you a kiss,” I dove into my own bed like a flying squirrel. Just as I got comfy and relaxed, my youngest started crying. Now, he’s going to be two soon, so the days of popping in the second he makes a peep are over. These days, I wait it out and see how serious he really is.
Well, a few minutes in, there was no letting up, and I exasperatedly popped out muttering things under my breath in a frustrated, mombie-type tone.
When I got to him, he was lying on his back, just kind of sleep-crying. Nothing was wrong. He wasn’t in pain, he didn’t need anything, and he was really just fighting sleep. I reached down into his crib and placed my hands on his cheeks to soothe him, and almost instantly, he closed his eyes and stopped crying.
Every time I thought about moving, his eyes would pop open and he’d start whimpering again. So I stayed bent over him with my hands on his face for about 5 minutes until I knew he was asleep. And that was the moment.
The moment I unfrazzled from the day. The moment I remembered why I’m here. The moment every ounce of myself I’d poured out that day was given right back to me.
Sometimes motherhood is just outright exhausting. Sometimes it tests every bone in our bodies.Sometimes we lose it because we’ve just got nothing left to give at the end of a long day. But sometimes there are these moments in motherhood, these beautiful moments where the world stands still and everything makes sense.
Sometimes the essence of motherhood is found in those calm, still moments; leaning over your child’s bed, holding his cheeks in your hands until he falls asleep. It’s found in those moments that you realize all your son needs is your hands on his face to feel secure. When you understand that all that chaos and noise, all the energy and effort, all the time and patience you pour out—it’s all for these moments.
It’s easy to get a little lost sometimes in this motherhood thing. Heck, in this life thing. It’s easy to want to rush through it all because we’re tired and over it and just can’t even. But in that moment with my aching back and my hands on my boy’s soft, chunky cheeks—those cheeks that someday will be chiseled and manly, I was reminded to be grateful. Motherhood is a truly miraculous experience sometimes.
What a gift to have the hands that soothe my son to sleep just by touching his face. What an honor to be the one my sons call to in their sleep. What a precious thing to get to give them one more kiss, and say “I love you” too many times each night.
Parenting is hard. But man, is it worth it.
It was just a regular night like every other. But it reminded me that motherhood isn’t regular at all. It’s extraordinary, and everything we do matters to our babies.