I sat on the edge of the tub, the toddler in her diaper, clinging to me for dear life, while the older kids ran wild in the living room.
The lingering smell of vomit on my clothes filled my nose. It mixed with the scent of the strawberry bubble bath I was running. I stared down at the wreckage of blankets, towels, and old clothes that had been the victims of dinner making an encore appearance.
I plopped the little one in the bath, wiped my greasy hair out of my eyes, and let out a big sigh. We had just gotten home from a “magical” night of Christmas lights and Santa’s lap with three kids, all 5 and under. (Not to forget the upset stomach at the end of the night. )
And we were tired.
Facilitating Christmas magic is exhausting, you know?
About that time, my husband came inside from unloading the van and I heard his feet coming my way.
He walked into the bathroom, wrapped his arm around my shoulder, kissed my temple, and said,
“I KNOW THIS IS GOING TO SOUND CRAZY, BUT I WOULDN’T TRADE THIS FOR JUST ABOUT ANYTHING IN THE WORLD.”
I smiled at him in agreement. There is nothing right now in our lives that SHOULD be simple, that isn’t seemingly chaotic. You should see the pure madness that is making sure everyone gets out the door with underwear and pants on!
Still, I know deep down in my heart, these days are the simplest life will ever be.
I know these little ordinary things I do day in and day out are the most extraordinary parts of my life.
The same bedtime routine every night.
Cutting apples and grapes and making sure the blue plate goes with the blue fork.
Washing the lovie and that blanket over and over again — only while they sleep.
Reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” for the 700th time while they hold on as tight as they can to my pointer finger, because that is their safe space.
Mama, you are the constant.
The one who creates tradition and routine and tirelessly keeps up with it.
These mundane tasks a mama does every day, the motions we could do in our sleep. They seem so small. Yet, I dare to say they are the most significant things you will ever do with your days.
Sure, maybe you’re not in a lab researching a cure for cancer, or scaling mountains, or fighting fires. But you are nurturing a family. You are creating a generation built to overcome adversity because they were first loved by you.
Because their mama loved them tirelessly, these tiny humans will be willing to take risks and rise to their potential. Maybe to fight fires and cure cancer, but more importantly, to be loving spouses and mothers and fathers who will also grow up to love their families well.
So go ahead and cut the crust off the bread for the 100th time, do the dishes again, change another diaper, kiss another forehead, read the same story one more time, take 30 minutes to bundle them up in the snow just to bring them back in 4.3 minutes later.
Mama, keep doing the things that no one sees.
Because, in those moments, you show them what unconditional love looks like. You don’t have to model it perfectly — just consistently.
As I grabbed my youngest from the bath and wrapped her in the warmth of her towel, she looked straight into my eyes, mustered a tired smile, and snuggled deep into my chest.
And I was reminded that I wouldn’t trade this for just about anything in the world.