The high-pitched distress cry of my two-year-old wafted in the open window, rose above the gurgling, clanking cacophony of doing the dishes, and reached my ever-alert mommy ears.
My baby girl was hurt.
I had sent my three kids (ages 2, 4, and 6) outside to play on this warm, rainy, fall day. They needed to get some energy out, and I needed to get some chores done. I had cracked open the window so I could hear their joyful laughter as they splashed through the puddles in the yard and driveway. I knew the bliss was only temporary. What I didn’t know was what would strike first: argument or injury.
I turned off the water and rushed to the kitchen window to assess the urgency of the situation. Bae was soaked from head to toe. Her face sported a mud mask. Her right foot was missing a boot.
My conclusion? She’d tripped out of her shoe, face-first into the menacing puddle she was currently slogging out of. I kept the corner of my eye on her through the window as I wrestled off my kitchen gloves and searched my memory for where I’d left my shoes. I was almost ready to run to her rescue when the activity in the yard recaptured my full attention, stopped me in my tracks, and melted my heart.
Sometimes I’m a helicopter mom, and other times I let my kids run free. One day I guide them patiently through the steps of a good apology, and the next day I scream at them to “JUST STOP FIGHTING!” I occasionally melt down about all my mom-failures. I always worry if I’m doing it right. Somedays, like this one, I’m proud of who my kids are becoming.
As my sweet baby slowly zombie-stomped, arms outstretched, towards home and safety, Big Brother ran to the rescue. He stooped in front of her and encircled her in a great big hug. Then as he stepped back and reached out a loving hand to flatten her disheveled hair, Big Sister joined the first response team.
She knelt down and pulled her own hat off her head. With it, she gently wiped the dirt, splatter, and tears off of Bae’s face. Then she peeled off Bae’s water-drenched sweater and handed it to Big Brother. Removing her own jacket, she draped it lovingly over Bae’s slumped shoulders.
Tucked under the protective arms of her siblings, my two-year-old princess was escorted down the driveway, up the steps, through the front door, and into my waiting arms. As I ran her a warm bath, I cradled her in my arms. By now her cries had subsided to whimpers. I bent my ear towards her shivering lips to try to make out the quiet words she was repeating.
“Thank you, Brother. Thank you, Sister. I love you.”
As her tears dried, mine began to flow. When I set her down in the warm water with a basket full of toys, I looked away from her growing smile into the beaming faces of my big kids. Somehow I managed to choke out the words, “I’m so proud of you.” Off they ran, with joy in their hearts, to play together as I monitored Bae in the tub.
No, I’m not a perfect mom. No, my children aren’t perfect either. They fight and squabble and get into mischief just as much as any other kid – or dare I say, more. But life is filled with stress and smiles. With fighting and hugging. With love and tears.
I don’t know the key to raising good kids. All I know is I’m striving for the perfect balance. And sometimes I strike it. So on good days I’ll continue to teach them how to share. And on bad days I’ll continue to ignore their shouting from the other room as they work out their own fights. I’ll continue to helicopter, and I’ll continue to send them outside alone. I’ll always worry about doing it all right. I’ll always try to be a better mom. And I’ll always rejoice in the bright moments when my kids exceed my highest expectations.
Because these are the days I see a glimpse of the amazing people they’re becoming. These are the days they show their true colors. The days they make my heart soar.
Thank you, Brother. Thank you, Sister. Thank you, Bae.
I love you.