Upturned faces.

“Mommy! Mommy!” on their lips.

Sometimes cheerful, sometimes in despair. Always expectant, always seeking resolution.

Today, like many, I’ve not even made coffee yet. Today, like countless yesterdays, I desperately want to check something off my list before the morning is through. And today, as it has been since the eldest first expressed “Mama”, the chorus seeking my attention is unending.

So I scoop them up, shuffle them away, and seek to entice them. Sometimes this means begging them, sometimes it means bribing. Sometimes it means surrendering to spend hours on the floor in a position not of my preference to offer just the right back rest and snuggle hold.

But through the tired, the sick, the late morning rush, and the changing of yet another horribly soiled diaper, I am called to be joyful. 

“Joy”—the prospect nags at me, and seems ever a moving target in this season of motherhood.

Too often I watch the clock, eager for the one or two hours where I might make personal progress. Then the time comes when sleepy heads are tucked away, and I’d really rather just curl up, too.

“Mommy!” punctures the night.

From somewhere, I find the strength, words, and wherewithal to attend to what ails them. “Hush now, it’s still night-night time,” I say, pushing back stray curls and kissing foreheads.

In the quiet of night that follows, I worry about the world and what it holds for them. And I remember things left undone. And I add to a growing but never pruned mental to-do list.

Joy.

Tendrils of it in the pureness of their delight. Energy like light beams lifts me, and a photo can only capture a frame.

Mommy!” rings out, this time to kiss a bonked finger. This time to read a book. This time to ever so sweetly ask for a treat. This time for “just a couple more minutes, I want to snuggle you.”

Joy is found in brief moments of reflection attained on the skirts of exhaustion. And in the whiff of hair as I nuzzle in to scale a mountain of books.

Joy is haphazardly sealed behind the front of encouraging bedtime but acquiescing to requests for more water, one more book, a last trip to the potty.

Joy is crammed in the spaces around siblings being precious and loving. It bursts forth with the thought “I made those. They are mine.”

Joy often feels far away, but it’s really as close as the next “Mommy!”

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Stephanie Eckles

Stephanie is a science-minded gal who grew up on a farm in Nebraska, and now works full-time as a web developer. She is mom to two wonderful girls. Steph enjoys cooking and a few too many shows on Netflix. Photography and casual authorship are other hobbies, as is being an occasional tech conference speaker.