A little voice at the side of my bed wakes me at 1:30 a.m. with a shakey “Mommy? I just threw up.” We stumble toward their bed to strip, wash and redress, and toss up a prayer that this was just a fluke. It must have been something she ate.
A plea to allow her to make dinner for the family. She stirs and hums and mixes. I shadow and wipe up messes and throw away garbage. She uses twice the dishes to do the work. She beams twice as bright as we all sit down to dinner and thank her.
A quiet daughter finally opens up about her day, long after bedtime has passed. The fog lifts around her and you see her come back to life as you listen, as you quietly take her burden; because you understand that it doesn’t need to be held on to. You can let those worries go for her.
A toddler burns with a fever. We thud to the couch to hold each other through the night. Wondering what the day will bring. Counting how many fevers it’s been this month. Knowing this has priority over any other plans for the next day.
The creak of the pantry door alerts to me to a scavenging toddler. She thinks she needs to have snacks always available. She reaches for the goldfish and has them all over the floor before I get to her. She’s so proud of herself, it’s hard to be upset. I scoop them up and put them away. Leaving her with a pile for herself.
An exciting story with an animated narrator. Eyebrows jumping, boisterous laughing, arms flailing, and knocking over milk. Apologies, forgiveness, mopping up milk, and wiping sticky floors for days. Back to the storyteller’s excitement.
That is the job. That is the calling. The work is not glamorous but it is life giving. This is what we live for. Not the cleaning, the arguing, the disciplining but the hugs, the love, the affirmation that we are doing this, and we are doing it well.
We are showing our kids how to serve, how to love, how to roll with it, how to be humble and kind and forgiving. Always forgiving. We are showing them imperfection and unconditional love. We are giving them the best pieces of ourselves and hoping they pick them up. Hoping they use them to make this world a better place.
We choose joy. Day after day, minute after minute, we choose to find joy in the small things, in the hard things, in the slow times and in the busy seasons. We seek joy when the cloudy days seem to go on without an end in sight. Because we are thankful for these days. And we know how fast they fly by.