Every morning I wake up, often after little or no sleep, and I tell myself that today is the day.
Today is the day that raising four children ages three to fifteen will not push me past the limits of my patience.
Today I won’t yell. I won’t lose my temper. I won’t find myself asking small people or big kids, “Why? For the love of God why?”
The thing is they never have an answer to that one because they really don’t know the answer themselves.
Today I will remain calm and remember all of those poems and articles about how fast it all passes and the importance of cherishing those fleeting moments.
Today is the day I will tell myself that housework doesn’t matter and I don’t really need nice things.
Today is the day I will be fine with never having the clothes put away, or everyone ready for anything on time, and the dirty dishes that never leave the sink.
Yes….I take a deep breath and I tell myself that today is the day.
And then the day begins. It’s always far too early and I am always far too tired. And the big kids never want to wake up and the little ones never want to sit and eat, and the nagging starts.
And then the rushing starts and the day rolls on into messes, and arguments, and missing shoes and late appointments and forgotten homework and calls from teachers and no time for housework and no time to eat or pee or think.
And then thoughts begin to creep in about my shortcomings and perceived failures as a mom, and the panic starts to set in. How can I possibly be everything they need all the time? How can I make sure that each one of them feel special and important and valued when we are always so busy that I often call out three names before I manage the correct one?
And my patience runs thin and my temper threatens to flare, and then, right before bedtime I walk upstairs to put something away. I’m only gone about three minutes.
As I come back downstairs and enter the kitchen I am greeted by a huge puddle of yogurt drink in front of the fridge, and a trail of it from there all the way to the living room. And there stands a recently bathed three year old, covered in yogurt from head to toe, totally baffled by my furious expression and my desperate attempts not to lose it.
And as I get down on my hands and knees and start trying to clean up what feels like a huge mess to my stress and exhaustion muddled brain, my five year old walks in:
“Mommy? How do you suppose caterpillars taste?”
And I think, seriously child? “Sweetie, I have never eaten a caterpillar.”
And he looks at me as if I’m the silliest person ever, and then starts to giggle. “No mommy. How do the caterpillars taste their food? Like do they use their feet? Mommy we don’t eat caterpillars.”
And as if by magic, I start to laugh and I can’t stop.
And he laughs and falls into my arms and the now naked three year old joins us, giggling and smelling of yogurt.
And I realize, that even though I fail daily at remaining calm and not caring about housework. Even though we are always rushing and always busy. Even though no one can ever find their shoes, there are hugs.
There are sticky kisses. There are secrets confided in me by a teenager who actually talks to me. There’s a pre-teen who, even though he can’t remember anything else, regularly notices that I’m coming unhinged and hugs me and asks if he can help.
And there are so many giggles and laughs. And there are misunderstandings about caterpillars. And I may forget to cherish all of those moments that the poems and articles tell me to cherish, but those moments still happen.
And I will remember them, even if it’s hard to do so when I am in the thick of it. And I wouldn’t change a second of it.
Today is the day.
This post originally appeared on Is This Chocolate or Poop?