My husband walks through the door and I am done. Finito. Finished. Over it. Here, take this baton, because my race has been run, son. I have made Tyson chicken nuggets, and Annie’s bunny macaroni and cheese, and homemade applesauce. I have cut up grapes and peeled oranges and taken the crust off of sandwiches. I have cleaned up whole milk and wiped dirty bottoms. I have pulled over to the side of the road and found a somewhat conspicuous place to pee because somebody couldn’t hold it another second. I have answered “why” 10,000 times and counting. And I haven’t been paid a dime for any of it.
I have taken care of every single need, big and small, for three other people today, not including myself.
Every. Single. Need.
I have rushed backpacks up to kindergarten classrooms. I have cleaned crusty oatmeal off ceramic dishes. I have picked up entire wads of toilet paper off of the floor, because certain people in this household just can’t stop themselves from unrolling it and leaving it on the tile floor. And I have had the Paw Patrol theme song stuck in my head from the time my eyes begrudgingly popped open and my size eight feet hit the floor running this morning.
And I’ve done it all because they need me so much right now. They need me for just about everything: stopping sibling fights, pouring cereal and milk, finding that one missing shoe. And yes, it drains me on a very regular and consistent basis, but it drains me so good, the same way a runner feels after he completes his marathon and collapses to the pavement.
I dread the day I’m not drained. I dread the day they won’t need me like this anymore.
I dread the day they don’t need to hold my hand when we cross through the Target parking lot. I dread the day they don’t turn around and say “I love you, too” before walking into school. I dread the day they don’t dance with me in the middle of the living room floor.
I dread the day they’re never home because they have their own driver’s licenses. I dread the day algebra homework fills up their afternoons. I dread the day they are texting their friends at night instead of singing lullabies. I dread the day their broken crayons turn into broken hearts.
I dread the day they don’t come running to my bedside after a monster haunts their dreams at midnight. I dread the day I don’t have dirty fingerprints to wipe off the back patio door. I dread the day they get in their old hand-me-down truck and head off to four years of college in a city miles away.
I dread the day their sweet, little “Momma” turns into a deep, raspy “Mom.” And most of all, I dread the day their little hands turn into big hands and slip right through my fingers.
I dread the day because it’s coming sooner and faster and more abruptly than I’d like.
And so I’ll take the tired. I’ll take the sleepy. I’ll take the exhausted. I’ll take the interruptions when I shower and the nagging when I try to sit down and relax for two seconds. I’ll take the empty energy, empty milk cartons, and empty tank.
I’ll take it all with a full heart and a huge smile, because one day, one day soon, I’ll have an empty home instead.
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