After announcing to my kids that it was time to get ready for bed . . . I huffed my way over to the staircase to climb to what I knew would be another 1.5-hour routine for three kids whose summer bedtime schedules have been nonexistent.

My son came barreling at me up the staircase screaming my name at the top of his lungs.

It was the witching hour. 

I had anticipated a whine about not wanting to go take a bath, or the 452nd complaint of the day that his little sister had taken one of his toys.

But I took a deep breath, turned around, sat down on the stair that met us in the middle, grabbed his hands gently and channeled any semblance of patience I had left in me that day . . . and calmly asked him why he was yelling my name so loud.

“I have to tell you something, Mooooooooom,” he announced.

“Ok, bud. I’m listening.”

We eye-locked in a way that we hadn’t all day. And I saw the shine in his blue eyes change.

“I’d like to say something kind to you,” he affirmed.

My head tilted to the side in curiosity at the same time the ends of my mouth turned up. It was the last thing I had expected to come out of his mouth at the end of a stressful day where he was overtired and having a hard time finding any sort of happiness, contentment (or kindness) in his day. 

He paused and looked to the side like he typically does when he’s thinking really hard and finally blurts his greeting card message out.

“I love you every day. You’re the best mom ever. And I want to be kind to you forever.”

I smiled, put his adorable face in my hands and took in the sweetness for a second.

“Are you going to cry now, Mom?” he said.

“Probably!” I laughed. “Now get over here!” And I pulled in his tiny four-year-old frame for a huge hug.

I’m not sure if he really planned to come at me with kindness in that moment. But looking back I thought about the way that I greeted him at the stairs. 

I stopped.
I sat down to be on his level.
I looked him in the eye.
I held his hands.
I spoke calmly.
I listened intently.

A far cry from the way I received him the rest of the day when I was on the phone, yelling my answers from the next room where I was cleaning and telling him to wait a second because Mommy was in the middle of something.

So our eye lock? 

Maybe he felt that . . . maybe that’s what he needed all day from me all along. 

To stop, to see him, to have patience with him and to listen to him.

And I get that. Because when I have a day like he had, that’s the way with which I want to be approached . . . to simply have someone stop and see me for a second . . . and hear me out.

When that happens, my unwanted feelings usually subside and I can feel the positivity seep back into my veins.

And I think that’s what happened for my dude on those stairs. 

On the days my kids seem completely off kilter . . . I often forget that they are just humans trying to navigate a big world with big emotions and big change and big lessons coming at them all of the time. 

Just like I am.

Wanting to simply be heard . . . be seen . . . and be listened to.

And mostly . . . to just be loved through it all.


Brea Schmidt

Brea Schmidt is a writer, speaker and photographer who aims to generate authentic conversation about motherhood and daily life on her blog, The Thinking Branch. Through her work, she aims to empower people to overcome their fears and insecurities and live their truth. She and her husband raise their three children in Pittsburgh, PA.