It happened again this last week. We were out to eat at our local taco joint and I had gotten everyone settled. I had just taken my first bite when my middle daughter came wandering around the table with her taco. She climbed up onto my lap and continued eating. A few bites later, my one-year-old had finagled out of his high chair straps and was reaching for me, so into my lap he came, too. A couple of minutes later I felt my oldest nuzzling into my side.
“Is there room for me to sit with you too, Mommy?” She asked with pleading eyes. I scooted over in my chair and she too joined the mommy pile up. At that moment, everyone began squawking and fidgeting around for more room. A meltdown was about to occur and I still wasn’t even halfway into my taco.
As this was happening, an older woman walked by and tapped me on the shoulder, “My, you have a full lap there,” she smiled, “and I bet you have a full heart, too.”
I smiled as she walked away and the meltdown ensued.
Yes, yes my lap is full and so is my heart, I thought to myself. But man my lap is so DANG full. And I began to cry.
You see being a mom to a lot of littles under five is one of my most precious gifts and greatest joys. It is also my biggest hardship and most defeating season of my life. Yes, all of those things can exist together. It never has been or will be one or the other. But that’s just the thing about motherhood.
I’m blessed and stressed. But that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for it. It just means my lap is always full.
It’s in the beauty of the early morning hours when little bodies come wandering down the hall, rubbing their eyes and climb into my lap. When they all snuggle into my chest in our big recliner and we are all just still. And then five minutes later everyone is pushing and kicking and my coffee spills all over the place.
It’s in the Sunday mornings we roll in late to church, cram ourselves into the pew, and I begin to feel my heart soften in worship. And it’s in those moments when tiny hands pull on my dress, lift UP my dress, and beg to be held, and suddenly I’ve got one on each hip and one around my waist and I’m sweating to beat the band.
It’s in the evening hours when we’re piled up in bed with a stack of books trying to quiet down before bedtime. As the pages turn and the story unfolds, tiny heads crowd around and begin to ask a million questions, each wanting to have their voice be heard and their book read. And it’s in the shuffling of books and crowding of heads that the crying starts and I’m more ready for bedtime now than before we began reading.
Yes, in that tiny corner table I felt so many, many things. But when it came down to it the thing I felt the most was full. Full of good and full of hard. And as I sat there and tried to finish what was left of my mangled, cold taco, I wiped the tears from my two-day old make-upped face and took a deep breath. And I breathed in everything that was in that moment—the giftedness and the joy, the hardship and the defeat. I was full—in my heart and in my lap.
And for this season of raising tiny people, I’m OK with that.