“What was your favorite part of today?” We (try to) ask the kids this question every night at some point during the bedtime routine.
This particular night, I happen to be spraying the whole mud-covered pack of wild children down on the patio before letting them inside the house. I don’t know why I’m bothering. Because there’s already mud all over the place from the running in and out for water and snacks all day. What’s a little extra mud? The spin mop can handle it.
They all answer together, shouting out what they loved most about their day. Water balloons, sliding in the mud, playing in the garden, eating lunch outside . . .
They love doing this. They love to revisit all the fun from their day even though it only just ended. They love telling me their favorite part and I love hearing it. But tonight, I’m extra tired.
I’m looking at their beautiful smiles and I’m listening. I am. But it’s a half listening type of listening because I’m distracted.
I’m thinking about the mess, the same mess connected to all the joy I’m hearing about. I’m thinking about all the stuff that needs done around the house before I can go to bed. I’m thinking about dirty laundry and running the dishwasher. I’m preoccupied with remembering where the floor cleaner is.
A voice brings me back to the moment, “What was your favorite part, Mom?”
I smile and say I liked every part they liked. That much is true. I look at these joyful faces, I relive all of the day’s adventures with them for a moment, and it’s really true.
I loved today. I even loved the mud, my own dirty feet are evidence of that.
But I’m tired. And I have work to do. I’m on my own for this shift because of my husband’s ever-changing work schedule. I don’t mind. I’m just tired.
Hop in bed, let’s say prayers.
Kisses and hugs, get tucked in.
A mother’s work never ends and sometimes, on nights like this, the bedtime break is just a time when we start catching up on what we couldn’t do during the day.
When I finally finish up and sit down with a cup of tea, I think about that question they asked me earlier. I think about my day.
My favorite part of today was definitely not cleaning up muddy footprints throughout the entire house after you guys went to bed. That was the worst.
It was not power washing the patio of the absolute mess that was made or searching the yard for any stray pieces of balloons you missed while cleaning up.
It was not the million dirty dishes or straightening up the pantry, but . . .
I loved when you ran up to me with that huge smile and said, “Did you see that?!” after you pummeled your brother with a water balloon. That was a great shot.
I loved watching you run through the sprinkler and when you carefully helped your baby sister walk through the yard so she wouldn’t slip on the wet grass. I thought my heart might explode.
I loved when you helped me plant flowers. I know I’m a control freak and you could probably tell I was dying inside watching you accidentally destroy the delicate petals. But you listened so well to my instructions and patiently let me guide you. I am so appreciative of that.
I loved watching you sit on the porch reading your book this morning. I see so much of myself in you when I take in that view of you enjoying the peace and quiet with a good read.
I loved that you ate all of your lunch and asked for seconds. When you love the food that much, it’s like you’re awarding me the golden trophy for cooking, and I feel like Super Mom.
I loved hearing you tell me all about the frog we caught in the backyard and how you were worried he might bite you. Seeing the world through your eyes is both adorable and fascinating to me.
I loved hearing you sing at the top of your lungs while you washed your hands before dinner. I bet you didn’t think I heard that.
I even loved your third outfit change, when you discovered your dress didn’t match your shoes. Your attention to detail is something I marvel at.
The truth is, I loved so many things about today. I can’t pick just one favorite part. I love being your mom. That’s a favorite thing of mine all by itself, and it makes so many of the moments my favorite.
I hope you always know that.