Last week, after much asking and asking from puppy-dog eyed children, I agreed on having a family sleepover in our living room. It had already been a very busy week and day, so the late-night fun was conditional on their having good behavior as we ran to a few stores to pick up some snacks and a movie. It sounded so simple, so fun, but considering how exhausted we all were even I knew I was probably asking for too much.
As we drove, the tiredness of the week caught up with them (and me) and soon the bickering ensued. I don’t remember what it was about. I do remember fighting the urge to yell like crazy. I mean, I never actually want to yell but I do want them to listen to me and for the fighting to stop, and screaming that at them for some strange reason sounds like a good idea sometimes. But of course it’s not- it’s exhausting! It’s sad! And I never have energy after that and it’s terrible for them. I made a threat about losing the sleepover because if they were this cranky, I didn’t want them to be even more cranky the next day. But inside, I wanted so badly for that sleepover to happen! I needed some fun family time! I knew I just couldn’t flip out…
I won’t give you the complete play by play of having to stop for gas in the heat, run through two stores with WAY too many toys and candies by the checkouts, and a minor showdown between me and a toddler over defacing a food display, but let’s just say we were ready to be home. As they (and I) became annoyed with each other yet again as we hit every red light, I realized with all of our running around in the afternoon they had never had dinner. Whoops. Maybe that had something to do with the stress we were ALL feeling. I started to empathize and see things from their tired, hungry point of view. Then I heard them tickling each other and even that was bothering me for some reason…probably the low blood sugar. As I felt the urge to let off a LOT of steam coming over me again, I made a choice. Instead of rationalizing an explosion, I pulled over. I pulled that hot, cranky van over into a parking lot and parked. I took a few deep breaths. I explained how when they are rough-housing it distracts me, it’s not safe and makes it hard for me to drive. Those precious kids, my most valuable loves, apologized and said they understood. That was it. No explosion. Just an explanation and then moving on. Then we went home and had a sleepover!
And I’m so glad things turned out that way, because if I had given in to the “I’m the mom and that’s why!” beast, I would have missed out on this adorable bed Sophia put together for me.
And I wouldn’t have heard Sophia say “Mom? Can I read you a story?” This sweet little one who sometimes doesn’t think she is a good reader, when she is the grandest storyteller I’ve ever met.
I would have missed her beautiful, wild, curls dangling in the light of her Flashlight Friend.
And her cute little finger trying to keep her place in the dim light.
We all wouldn’t have giggled at Frog and Toad’s silliness.
I would have missed seeing her adorable nose as she looked down to read,
her vibrant smile,
and the precious way she holds her tender chin in her palm.
We wouldn’t have all laughed at how it looked like her unicorn was trying to read too.
Her innocence and curls touch my heart. The child-like wonder of my kids heals my soul.
I need moments like this.
They cleanse me. Recharge me. They help me discover new depths and layers to myself.
They remind me of why I do what I do, and keep trying even when I don’t do a good job. And sometimes, I don’t. But when I can slow time down and live in the moment, it’s rich with beauty. When I can get closer to what’s really happening and simultaneously step back and look at the big picture, I am real. I am honest with my kids. I am understanding. I am amazing! I am a powerful force for good. I am a mother and I am proud of who I am and who my kids are.
And when we do take that higher road in parenting, when we are selfless and put what’s important first, it’s so important we recognize that. We need to feel proud of ourselves. We don’t have cheerleaders. We don’t get report cards. There is no paycheck. But it’s not needed when these beautiful, organic moments are ours to cradle. These Mommy Milestones make everything worth it, because they remind us WE are all still growing. They show WE are learning. That we are also getting our training wheels off, tying our shoes and starting to master this experience of Motherhood. And we don’t only love our kids in that instant for their accomplishments and progress, we love ourselves too. And that achievement helps everyone. Love, Eva