It's the hardest job I've ever had. It requires my best, and I fail...a lot. But I DELIGHT in my boys. I love, love, love being their mom.
We lost a baby before having Tovi. That pain and grief left me sensitive to those who can't have kids or have lost theirs. And because of the damage and subsequent surgery resulting from the combination of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and my pregnancies, I cannot have more kids. That has left me grateful for the opportunity to have had mine. Each of my boys is a precious blessing.
Even when one poops his pants, or another lets the cat out, or when my patience runs drier than our recent Mid-Western draught, I am grateful.
I have these moments as a mom that fill my heart with gratitude for this opportunity to raise them. Many of you know these moments, and as you read mine, your eyes will tear up with the recollection of your own. Please share! We, as parents, love bragging on our kids more than virtually anything else. Here are a few of mine:
This morning, we were preparing to take a picnic lunch to the park, and Tovi was running in and out of the kitchen while I was fixing our lunch. At one point he ran in, breathless, and gasped, "Mom, I don't know if I'm strong enough." He was pretending to be one hero or another. But in that moment, I saw both my little boy and also this vast, challenging, beautiful world he is facing. He wasn't just a kid madly in love with all things Batman; he was a future man, a man after God's own heart, a man destined for greatness. So I had a rare stroke of genius.
Seriously. This was motherhood gold.
The boys have been memorizing Ephesians 6:10: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. So when my little boy said, "I don't know if I'm strong enough," I knelt down and said, "Tovi, what does Ephesians 6:10 say?" He quoted it to me, and I continued, "So who makes you strong?" He thought for a moment (undoubtedly processing that Lord=God...hard concept for a 4 year old to grasp), and then his eyes lit up. He proclaimed, "GOD!"
"Yes, my dear, God makes you strong! So you see, you ARE strong enough because God makes you strong!" He was bursting with this news and sprinted from the room to share this with his little brother and fight off all the invisible foes his oversized imagination could muster.
And then the icing: From his position on the stairs, I heard 2-year-old Oren say, in his adorable little voice, "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power!"
Yep, moment of gratitude.
Other moments aren't quite as allegorical or philosophical, but they leave me equally grateful for these precious, spirited boys. A short while after the above account (I was still wrist-deep in the peanut butter jar), Tovi was pretending that bad guys were blowing up the house. If you've seen the old 1960's Batman series, you know how prevalent cartoonish bombs are in those story lines. These are the bombs Tovi was imagining. I told him he'd need to fix our house, and he said, with all sincerity, "But Mom, I don't have any house pieces in these pockets!"
Oh, I should have thought of that. Of course you don't have any house pieces in your pockets. We left those in yesterday's shorts.
Tonight, I suspected that announcing, "It's bedtime!" would lead to some resistance, so instead I asked them what time they thought it was and then asked a series of silly, rhetorical questions.
"Is it breakfast time?"
"Is it clip-our-toenails time?"
"Is it wear-a-silly-hat time?"
OK, so silly hats it is! I grabbed my giant black sun hat from the peg above the entry way closet and dropped it on Oren's head, amid giggles and hiccups.
Once Oren chucked the hat to the floor, I asked, "Is it put-on-our-jammies-brush-our-teeth-and-snuggle-Mommy time?"
"Yeah, it's snuggle-Mommy time!"
Bedtime snuggles are the very, very best.
Finally, one more. My boys are of an age where a kiss from Momma can still fix anything. Their giant stuffed lion, whom Tovi dubbed Morris after the cat-food mascot (no matter the fact that this lion is, in fact, a lioness), suffered a fatal wound today. Granted, the wound was imagined. But for all intents and purposes, Morris was dead. "Don't worry, I can fix it!" I said. Tovi looked doubtful, but handed Morris over to me. I asked where the wound was and planted a magic Mommy kiss on the spot, and Morris roared back to life. Problem solved. Oren functions under this same rule of logic. He screams easily, and it's not a pleasant sound. Every bump, scrape, stumble, or even hurt feeling leads to this scream, and he will sustain it until he receives his remedy: a kiss from Mommy. And if I happen to miss the spot, even by millimeters, I must try again. And again. But the fact that, with the mere brush of my lips, I can solve the biggest problems in his little life, fills me with love and pleasure. I delight in being his mom and in the magic of motherhood being enough to cure all ails.
You see, the reason my eyes fill with tears so easily when it comes to my children is that I know how fleeting these days are. Someday my boys will face problems that can't be solved with a kiss or a snuggle. Some hurts will be too big for me to fix. Someday they'll be out of my grasp, and those sweet, tender bedtime snuggles will be long behind us. Someday they'll disappoint me. They'll mess up. They will suffer broken hearts, wounded pride, lessons in humility. And I won't be able to rescue them.
They may even get sick. Suffer. Die. No, I can't save them from everything, no matter how much I love them. My dear cousin Mary's grief over her precious daughter Myah, gone too soon due to the evil that is childhood cancer, is proof of that. No matter how much we love our children, we can't save them.
So I will cling to these moments, these brief days, and delight in the imagination, the snuggles, the kisses, the laughter, even the frustration, poopy pants, and doors left ajar.
I will impress upon my memory the sound of little voices reciting scripture, of giggles turning to hiccups, of breakfast dishes tossed into a sink still above a toddler's head.
I will cherish every soapy toe, sweaty brow, grubby hand.
I will kiss each dimple and freckled nose.
And I will spend a small fortune on rides at the zoo.
Because I have today. I pray I have tomorrow. But someday...I won't.
So today, I am grateful.