“Mmmmmm,” she says, lifting her head from my arm and pursing her lips. I smile and lean down to kiss my one year old’s pillowy cheek. Satisfied, she smiles and returns to nursing. Three more times this happens before she finally closes her eyes and drifts off to sleep. I stare down at this little miracle girl in my arms and can do nothing but marvel that she’s ours.
Sometimes motherhood is hard. Sometimes I become frustrated at my toddler for waking up thinking it’s playtime at 3am. Sometimes I just want it to be nap time already.
But she always knows that a request for a kiss will never be denied.
“No no no no no!” I hear from the living room as I stand at the kitchen sink cleaning up from breakfast. Looking up to see what she’s doing I’m able to confirm that, yep, she’s trying to climb over the baby gate again, so again I go to prevent her from doing what she clearly knows she shouldn’t.
Sometimes I lose my patience when she knowingly misbehaves. Sometimes it seems that she is determined to hurt herself, and that freaks me out. Sometimes I wonder at what age caution will be born.
But she always knows that I will ever hold her close, wipe away her tears, kiss her ouchies, and make her laugh again.
“Book?” she says questioningly, bringing me her word book for the thousandth time. I look down into her blue, blue eyes and resign myself (and my husband) to yet another late supper because one more book almost always leads to another and another and….
Sometimes I wish she would let me cook just one meal in peace. Sometimes I take for granted that the day will inevitably come when I’m begging her to spend time with me.
But she always knows that my days with her are treasures. And she can be fairly confident that a request for a book and “rock-rock” will be answered in the affirmative.
My little helper stands on her special Helping Mommy Chair and watches me stir together a treat for later, mimicking what I’m doing with her own little bowl and spoon. When she grows bored of “cooking” she moves on to another favorite activity of hers: opening the kitchen drawers and throwing the contents onto the floor. Before I can stop her one entire drawer is emptied.
Sometimes I wonder when she’ll figure out the whole cleaning up thing. Sometimes I grow weary of picking up the same things over and over only to have her pull them back out. And, in the interest of full disclosure, sometimes I leave the things on the floor for “tomorrow” because I know they’ll just end up right back there as soon as I’ve put them away.
But my girl always knows that having her “help” me is one of my most favorite things.
“Mommy? Mommy? Mommy!” I hear her questioning voice through the baby monitor. She’s not crying; she just woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep and is wanting to know if I’ll come to her. I give her a few minutes to see if she’ll quiet down, but her voice only grows more insistent. “Mommy!! MOMMY!!” Walking through the kitchen I see the time: 1:00am. I’ve been asleep for a brief two hours.
Sometimes I beg God to please, please just let her sleep. Sometimes I threaten to put the baby monitor on my husband’s side of the bed, to give him a turn waking up a couple times each night.
But I don’t act on those threats. She knows that her needs will be met, even at 1:00am.
Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I let her down.
Often times I mess it all up. I lose patience. I have to ask for help mothering this little girl daily. Nightly, as I lay my sleeping daughter in her crib, I have to ask for more strength, more love, more patience, more grace, and, above all, more Jesus.
Because I am not perfect, and I can’t do this alone.
But she always, always knows she’s loved.
Let them know that they’re loved. Read just one more book. Let them help you. Give them your time.
We’ll never be perfect, but this one thing we can do. Let them know that they’re loved.