It's the very end of Mother's Day; I kissed Becky, Huck, and Tom goodnight over an hour ago, all three of them hugging me just as tightly tonight as any other night.
Every day here, you see, is Mother's Day for me, and not because I'm treated to breakfast in bed every morning and surrounded by fresh cut blossoms each day - neither of those are my style.
No, my meaning is simpler, one I hope my children fully grasp when they are grown and raising families of their own.
They - Becky, Huck, Tom - are the best gifts with which I have ever been blessed. Their presence is my present. I don't need much more than that.
Are there moments when I am tested by them?
Oh dear Lord, yes; even today, I hoisted little Tom out of Bob Evans on my shoulder to sit him in a big fat timeout in the lobby. My littlest dude was on the verge of a major meltdown after a loooong afternoon of whiny highlights and I, his dear Mama, was just sick and tired of listening to it.
They all have their moments each day where they run me through the wringer, both individually and collectively. There are the backseat pokes, prods, and farts and burps (both real and faked) made with the express purpose of annoying the sibling next to them. There is the constant tick of the clock as I try my best to squeeze everything and everyone into the family schedule.
And there is whining and the talking back and all that came before - the tantrums and the pukies and the diaper blowouts and the never-ever-ever sleeping through the night. And before that, the nine months plus and still pregnant, the post-partum hormones and tears, and the never-ceasing fear that I just wouldn't measure up to whatever imaginary Motherhood Standard of Perfection my mind had devised.
Those fears still dog me, but less so. What I do know after almost eight years is that there is no one right way to do this mommying gig, no one book that can guide you through every moment of your child's life and give you full confidence and reassurance that your darling baby will grow up to be well-adjusted and productive member of society.
There is only faith, hope, and of course, love.
In the face of the moments that have tested me the deepest, the times as a mother when I have feared for one of my children's lives and during my darkest hours when I feared for my own grasp on sanity, I have clung to those three. There were days when I balanced just the first with the last, days when the idea of hope seemed too daring, too bold.
Those days changed me, simplified me.
Becky, Huck, and Tom matter. Knute and I matter.
The rest? Not so much.
Motherhood has served as a crucible to refine me, strengthening me and simplifying me at the same time.
And this? This me-who-is-mommy, this me who wants less and loves more?
This is the surprise gift of motherhood: my life made infinitely richer through endless giving.
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