I Can Do That


When two out of three kids crawled into my bed shortly before 4:00 this morning, after all these years of having kids, I still believed I’d go back to bed for a while. The smallest kicked and wrestled with my covers and stroked my arm with his tiny hand. The older child relenting her space to the youngest and shuffling her feet through the hall back to her own bed. I prayed the “DearGodpleaseletthemgobacktosleep” prayer that rarely, if ever, has been answered, and I waited.

You didn’t sleep. So I carried you back to your bed. Where are your PJs? Why are you naked? I put your clothes back on and tucked you in and I gave you a small drink – no peeing the bed please – and I waited.

I don’t hear you now. It’s 4:57 a.m. Are you sleeping?

I used to pray that you would sleep, babies, because my eyes burned tired and my chest was tight with fear that three hours might be all that I get and it surely wasn’t three in a row. How would we make it through the day, I wondered, as I prayed my DearGodletthemgobacktosleep prayer again. But that was before I knew how time worked. That was before I knew how time was such a tricky thing.


Having these three babies has taught me more lessons than I can count. One lesson is this: time is fleeting. It is why the old ladies say things like, “Oh, they are so precious. Enjoy every minute!” And you say in your mind, Pshffth. I certainly enjoyed the minutes today while I cleaned poop off of every single bar of my child’s crib. Precious. Or, Loved the minutes cleaning puke chunks off car seat straps. Or was that just me? To me, not every minute was precious. But yesterday, I looked over at my middle schooler at her middle school orientation and I wondered if every minute might have been precious, in its own way, after all.

Motherhood is not always sweet. Attempting to know with certainty that every decision you make and every word you speak is for the best interest of the tiny people in your care at all times is more than a daunting task. As mothers, we could spend all day and night wondering and questioning if we handled it right, if they will be okay, if this will all work out. Will it?

Or we could just hug them, redress them, tuck them in tight back in their bed or in yours or wherever, and pray that it might never end. We can stay an extra hour at their middle school orientation, trying to help them master their locker combination. (It is still questionable if she will get it.) We can recognize that even when they are screaming angry words at you, when they are crying in their beds later, they want you to come in. They want you to understand the mysterious world in which they are living. Do you remember?

When I disobeyed my parents as a freshman in high school, they said that I could no longer go to prom with a boy who had invited me. This, to me, was the end of the world. I cried so hard in my bed upstairs that my eyes were red and puffy and my chest hurt from sobbing. I remember hearing footsteps on the stairs coming up to my room. I didn’t turn around. I didn’t look at her at all. I didn’t want to see anyone… sort of. And she sat by me in my bed. And she stroked my head and tucked back my hair that was stuck to my face with tears. And she sat with me while I cried. And I will never ever forget that.

Now that’s something I can do. When there are no good words to say. When I can’t decide what is the best choice for everyone’s lifelong success at that moment. When it seems too much for them or me at any given time — tricky, elusive time. By my bed as a tiny child in the middle of the night, or in the halls of a new middle school, I can do that.

Be there. I can do that.

Growing Up, Time, MotherhoodPhotos taken approximately five minutes apart… or a few years… or whatever.


  1. Love your candidness!! You’re right on! Time is fleeting and you’re doing all the right things! Even though mine is 19, he still wants me to be his mom and tell him everything will be ok. Way to go, momma! Now, go get a nap!!


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