When my youngest was 2 and we were in the trenches of potty training him, he pooped on the bathroom floor — right next to the potty. He was so proud it didn’t land in his diaper, and although it didn’t make it to the destination I would have liked, it made my heart melt a bit. He was so delighted with himself, and even more so over the fact that he cleaned up the turd by wiping it all around the bathroom floor. “Mom, I didn’t poop in my diaper! I did it here instead. I tried to clean it up, but it didn’t work.”
No, it didn’t work but my eyes filled with tears just the same. Partly from the odor of the feces that was ground into the grout (he had eaten a lot of fish sticks the day before), but also because he was overjoyed at his accomplishment. This was the one time I didn’t mind slipping on my rubber gloves and a dust mask, and getting out the heavy duty, toxic, non-organic cleaner. Unexpected? Yes, but my heart turned into a puddle of hormonal soup just the same.
That’s what keeps us going as parents, isn’t it? Those treasured moments that catch us off guard, stop us in our tracks, and remind us why we work so damn hard to shape amazing human beings. Our children seem to know all the ways to paralyze us with fervent admiration by doing some of the following:
1. Sharing things with each other.
When my daughter sees there is one cookie left and she splits in three ways to share with her brothers, I melt into a mushy heap on the floor. I then proceed to take my weepy self into the kitchen and make a triple batch of her favorite cookies.
2. Helping me out when I am having a rough day.
Or losing my shit. Whatever. Sometimes my kids sense the losing of shit before it comes, and they spring into to action by getting me a Diet Coke from the fridge, then scurry around cleaning up their monumental messes. I would like to pull up my big girl panties here and tell you I have thoughts like Good, you know what’s best for you and my sanity so yes, keep on cleaning up before I go to the bad place, but the reality is that it makes me stop and question myself to see if what I am getting my knickers in a knot about is really worth it. Usually, the answer is no and before I know it, we are having a group hug on the kitchen floor because my kids are amazing.
3. When they sleep together.
Waking up to see one of my children sleeping peacefully is tender enough, but to find two of them snuggling together under a sea of blankets does me in. I lean in the doorway, hand over my mouth as the tears flow like last night’s wine that I only poured because, holy shit, they would not go to sleep! It is the perfect way to start the day. This is not going to happen forever and to see them share that kind of love and affection wrecks me every time.
4. When they help each other.
Reaching for each other’s hands while walking down the steps, reading to each other, helping each other tie shoes, picking each other up after they fall. At the mere sight of it, I am overwrought with emotion. Hell, just writing about it fills my heart and soul with so much tenderness I might burst. Kids helping kids; it just doesn’t get better than that.
5. When they give compliments.
When my son was 3, we were standing in line at the fabric store and there was a sweet lady in front of us who was telling me she was 89 but was going to quilt until she was dead. We laughed, and my son looked at her and said, “Mommy, I love that grandma.” Just kill me now. He made her day, he made my day, hell, he made my life.
I can’t lie, though, honestly, it doesn’t take much to make me feel good. Why, just the other day, my daughter told me my new wrinkle cream was working really well as she grabbed for a second bag of fruit snacks and her phone after I told her to get outside and air out her shorts. I am sure it was a trick, but hey, she knows what she is doing and I like that about her.
6. When they give you “the look.”
You know what I am talking about — the look that comes in so many forms but it does the same thing to your insides every time. The one that makes you melt like a pad a butter sliding down a stack of blueberry pancakes. The look that allows them to get whatever they want because you are putty in their hands.
7. Trying to pronounce certain words.
This guts me every freaking time. My daughter used to call Home Depot “Hen Deepy.” My son could not say bath, and so he called it a “bubble.” When they start to grow out of this stage and actually learn to pronounce words the right way, you may find yourself wanting them to regress. Except when they call a truck a “fuck.” “Mommy, look at that huge fuck!” Oh, who am I kidding? I miss that one the most.
8. Making handmade cards.
The adorable little people, their beautiful interpretations of what they think you look like. Those backward letters. Those adorable cards have caused more tears from this mama than any bad day ever has. They are everything.
9. When you know they are nervous but they try really hard anyway.
Damn, seeing that makes me so proud. I don’t know whether to stand and cheer for them or reach for the Kleenex. (I do both.) But seeing your little one try really hard at something even when they are struggling gets me in all the feels. I don’t care if it is on the basketball court, trying to make friends at the playground, or during the school play. These are the moments when parents think, I am raising a rockstar. Yes, you fucking are.
10. When they pick me flowers.
I don’t care if it is a weed. I want to see it clutched in their sweaty little hand as the run towards me bearing this beautiful gift. To watch your children give, truly give, something to someone is so moving, it moves me right into a state of elation that lasts all day long.
This list could go on and on and on. I have to stop though, because I am not fit to write through these tear-filled eyeballs of mine. Besides, I think my son is downstairs making me a snack as he sings the latest Taylor Swift song, and well, I just can’t miss that.