My kids gave me a run for my money today.

There were lots of fights. Lots of tears. Lots of not listening. Lots of He touched mes and She took my toys. Lots of tantruming and wildness and negotiating.

By the time my husband arrived home from work I was done. I excused myself to our bedroom for a little bit of alone time while he ate with the kids, just so I could hear myself think. 

So I could breathe

I need those refreshes often in this phase of life, I’m finding. 

But later, after three bedtime stories and three forehead kisses, I sat in the stillness of the kids’ room listening to their breathing grow deeper.  And just like every other night, the sight of them sweetly tucked in and peaceful stirred an overwhelming wave of gratitude within me.

For all of its hard, messy exhaustion, I have to believe this season truly is the sweet spot.

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Because these babies? Right now, they’re mine.

I take that for granted so often I’m ashamed to admit it. 

I look forward to the days of less needing and more independence. I salivate over the thought of being able to sit and drink my hot coffee in peace while they sleep in until 10. 

I’m exhausted. The kids rarely all sleep through the night . . . so neither do I. 

I’m knee-deep in potty training—which is pretty much the bane of my parenting existence. 

My ratio of adult conversation to kid conversation is way skewed in favor of long philosophical discussions about Mayor Goodway’s pet chicken in Paw Patrol. 

I have neglected myself and my needs for so long I’ve almost forgotten what they even are. 

I feel undervalued and unappreciated, even if it’s all in my head.

I am touched out, overwhelmed, and tired.

But even so, right now these kids are mine—and there’s a lot to be said for that.

Right now, we fall asleep under the same roof every single night. 

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Right now, the worst choices they make are to yank sister’s doll from her hands or smack brother on the head, or yell, “no!” in utter, toddler-like defiance. 

They aren’t navigating broken hearts. 

They aren’t overwhelmed with peer pressure. 

They aren’t battling mental illness. 

They aren’t dabbling in dangerous experimentation. 

I don’t toss them the car keys and pray they’ll return to me in one piece.

I don’t lay awake across town . . . across the state . . . across the world from them and wonder if they’re making good life choices. 

I don’t worry about them every second of every day, because for now they’re here in my arms.

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So yes, this season is hard. And I think that’s OK to say out loud.

It’s OK to feel beaten down and exhausted. 

It’s OK to feel frustrated. 

It’s OK to not enjoy every moment. 

It’s OK to wonder how the years fly by so quickly when some days draggggg on.

But tonight I’m so, so very thankful to have these babies right here with me invading my space, driving me a bit insane, and asking me to love them with everything I’ve got. 

It won’t always be this way—one day I’ll have to turn them over to the world and pray they’ll be OK—but for now they’re mine. 

Thank God for that.

Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the beauty and chaos of life through the lenses of motherhood, marriage, and mental health. To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward