“Mom, my tummy hurts. And I can’t sleep,” said my big girl after I had alrady tucked and retucked all the kids in bed for the night.
I looked up from my phone in the kitchen, from the texts I was catching up on. And in that split second before I answered her, I had a choice to make. How was I going to respond?
My initial thoughts were those of frustration. Not this tonight. Please. After the demands and needs from my kids All. Day. Long. I am done. I am so tired from being needed, climbed on, whined at, tantrumed at. For the love, please go to bed. My timecard is full. With a husband who has been working 60 hour weeks for months, I live for the evenings so I can have a break, a moment of silence, so I can wake up and be a mom again tomorrow.
Often I am trying to distinguish the tears, bumps, bruises, and tummy aches from real or “fake” problems. Many times my patience runs thin on this front because the tears are all too frequent from my kids. Before you think I am being insensitive, the bigger picture here is I am teaching my kids to be brave and not to worry aout the little things. But this also means I, as the mom, have to help them recognize when it is a “big” thing.
So I looked at my big girl and instead of dismissing her back to bed, so I could have me time, as I have done before, something stopped me this time. This might be a “big” thing, I thought. I put down my phone, went with her into her room, laid in bed wth her, and asked her to tell me more abut her tummy ache.
“Do you feel sick?” No.
“Do you need to throw up?” No.
“Are you hungry?” No.
“Are you worried or nervous about something?” Long pause.
And right here is where I almost missed a moment with my big girl had I sent her back to bed.
Her voice quivered a bit, and she explained some worries she has about the playground at school. I listened. We talked. I offered advice. Slowly her confidence started to build and excitment crept into her voice. I could see her worries melting away.
“Can you stay awhile, Mom? Until I fall asleep?” She asked.
We snuggled and spent a little extra time, just the two of us, in the stillness of the night. Something we almost never do because she is not a snuggler, and there are two others also clammoring for my attention. I soaked in all this goodness and stored it away in my memory for safe keeping. This far trumped any of my own selfish evening plans.
I laid there long after she had fallen asleep with my hand still firmly in her grasp. Thankful for the moment- that I almost missed. Thankful for being needed. Thankful she shares her fears and worries with me. Thankful I am her mom.
How many more opportunities will I have like this? And how many have I already missed? I wondered. Please God, don’t let me be so busy, tired, distracted that I miss anymore, I prayed.
And this? Motherhood at its finest. Those little unexpected nuggets of time sometimes we forget to see amongst the busyness, the chaos, the crying, the exhaustion. These moments we tuck away and savor during the really hard ugly days of motherhood. This is one of those times, I thought, that will carry me through the really hard days which, if I am honest, are more often than I would like to admit.
I won’t soon forget tonight- a sweet, seemingly ordinary moment that was anything but, that almost passed me by.