The Best Thing I Did Today Was Nothing At All

by Kimberly Zapata
Originally Published: 
quality time with child SAHM motherhood
Mkovalevskaya / iStock

I woke at 5:30 this morning. I had planned to get up early—I had dishes to wash, laundry to fold, and articles to write—but you woke me before my alarm.

“Mom. Mommy?”

I threw my body off the bed and dragged my cold feet across the cold floor. I was tired and frustrated. I was annoyed and angry. I mean, how the hell was I going to get all the things on my to-do list done now. But I paused and took a breath before opening your door. Before seeing you. Before saying “good morning.”

“I hungy. Mommy, I hungy.”

I knew you would be. You are every morning. (Seriously, these are the first words out of your mouth each and every day.) But then you ran to me, as you do every morning. I bent down to meet you, and you wrapped your little arms around my neck. You squeezed, hard, and I hugged you back.

“Gawd mawn-ing Mommy! Mommy, I hungy.”

“Okay, sweetie. We’ll go eat, but give me a kiss first.”

Your cool, wet lips met mine, but before I could savor the moment you were off—running toward the kitchen trying to turn on lights you couldn’t reach and eat a breakfast I could not make fast enough. You threw a fit when I put your milk in the pink cup instead of a purple bottle (one you used when you were far younger and unable to feed yourself). You stomped and screamed when I had to toast your waffle, when I wouldn’t let you eat it right out of the freezer. And you yelled and cried when I gave you said waffle; apparently, you wanted cereal and milk instead.

Ah, so it’s one of those days, I thought. I braced myself for the tantrums. For the mood swings, the yelling, the “nos” and “get downs” and the “don’t do thats.” For the patience of mine which would surely be tested—and broken—for the afternoon cry I was slated to have. I readied myself for another late night of cooking and cleaning, of running and writing. And I prepared myself for another exhausting day, another emotionally trying, draining, and difficult day.

But then you surprised me. You see, you were sitting on the living room floor, coloring at the coffee table, and you invited me to color beside you. I obliged and sat down, half expecting you to shriek in terror when I did (because, well, toddler). When you kept on coloring, seemingly unphased, I grabbed a crayon and asked you what to color: Sofia’s dress or Minnie’s shoes. Without missing a beat you said, “Minnie’s shoes.” And so I colored Minnie’s shoes and there we sat, you and I, coloring together, relaxing together, playing together, have quality time together.

After 15 minutes or so, we moved on to “tent,” aka that time of day when we lie on the floor, cover ourselves in some silly sheet or throw blanket, and snuggle. (Have I told you how much I love your snuggles?)

“Mommy. Go sleep. Stay here. You go sleep. I be back. Okay? Okay.”

And so I stayed. I lay still while you slinked around the house, collecting stuffed animal companions and pillows for me. Sure, I had a bunch of shit to do, but I stayed. I stayed still and silent and with you, because I love you and these moments are fleeting, and because this time—this “my mommy is my best friend” phase—won’t last.

We watched Sofia in my bed for nearly an hour, against my normal wishes and “TV rules.” We sang the “Wheels on the Bus” and our ABCs on the kitchen floor. And we played dinosaur—you stomped and roared through every room of our house in an effort to 1) scare me and 2) piss off our downstairs neighbors.

But I didn’t stop you, and I didn’t care. (Sorry, not sorry, my dearest “bangs on the ceiling” friend.)

Sure, you had you “moments”: You dropped a ton of yellow rice on the floor because you wanted to “feed our cat.” You tried to bite my butt while I did dishes because…well, actually, I have no idea why you tried to bite my butt. And you threw a fit when I told you cookies couldn’t—and wouldn’t—count as dinner. But those moments paled in comparison to the ones we shared: to the sneaky, and inaudible, secrets you whispered in my ear to the hour-long tour of our house you gave me and to the smiles and laughs, kisses, giggles and hugs.

And when the day was done, when I finally tucked you in and turned out your light, I realized something: I didn’t do a damn thing today. The sink was still full. The clothes were still unwashed. My article was still unwritten. More than 15 hours had passed since I woke, and what did I have to show for it? A pile of Legos, a pair of “lightly worn” pants, and more than a dozen stuffed animals—all strewn across my kitchen floor?

Yes, and no.

I mean, I did have a mess—and a shit-ton to do—but I also had you. I had your attention, your affection, and your love. I was able to truly appreciate your laugh (an adorable giggle I cannot even begin to describe), the way you say words like school (skoo) and potty (pot-tay), and I was able to truly appreciate your sweetness, your innocence, and your perfection. It was uninterrupted quality time, because I let everything else go.

I was able to see you, and the world, through your wonder-filled eyes. Through your imagination.

And so the best thing I did today was nothing at all. Because the best thing about nothing is that you are my everything.

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