We’re rushing out the door five minutes behind—per usual—as my children all begin to let out a request or demand of some sort toward me.
“Mom!!! I can’t find my blue shoe.” My oldest yells out.
“Mom, what happened to my swim backpack?” Another son continues.
“Mommeeeee, he hit me.” My three-year-old wales.
And as if the baby knew it was his turn, he takes a hard yank on my earring, making me regret my effort to pretend like I wanted to wash my hair and look presentable today when all I really wanted to do was use dry shampoo.
Before I begin to answer their requests, I take a moment to collect myself. In that one millisecond, I realize I am exhausted. You know, the down to your core exhausted where you could fall asleep standing up?
I then think. “Ugh. I just want to make it all stop for a minute and leave the house in peace.”
But I can’t.
So instead, I gather and reassemble what’s left of my patience before I open my mouth and begin to help them out one by one—all in one breath, might I add.
“The blue shoe is behind the couch, your backpack is in the back of the garage where you left it last night and I don’t know how many times I have to tell you that if you hit, you lose a dollar from your wallet. End of story.”
The ornery son who hit looks relieved knowing he has no money left in his wallet anyway from all his bouts of hitting this summer. But what he doesn’t know is that it brings a smile to my face knowing I am one fight away from telling his brother to just hit him back.
As we move this same, loud mess from the garage hallway into the van, more needs pour from them to me. I take another deep breath and begin attending to those needs as I simultaneously think to myself…
Man. Sometimes it’s hard to be so needed.
I mean, sometimes it feels really, painfully hard to be “the one.”
You know. To be “the one” that is the end all/be all for every thing that goes wrong in life.
The one that knows the floss is in the couch cushion when they’re searching for it ten minutes before their teeth cleaning.
The one that knows exactly how much milk to mix with the chocolate syrup in order to create the only chocolate milk approved by an OCD toddler with an addiction to chocolate milk.
The one that knows you never use the blue spoon for oatmeal, but always the one shaped like a truck unless it’s strawberry oatmeal and then you use a fork.
To be the one that remembers spirit day is Friday and keeps an extra spirit shirt stored in the back of the van in the event that someone bursts into tears when they realize they don’t have the right shirt on.
To be the one that organizes the birthday parties and then pays the neighbor to be Darth Vader in 100 plus degree heat when the “character caravan” cancels on you last minute.
To be the one that helps serve as the neighborhood umpire (umpire voice included) when a casual game of baseball gets more heated than expected among friends.
To be the one that calls the doctor about a high fever and then administers the medicine every time the fever spikes and then wakes the child up to take the fever every two hours through the night for 48 hours on end.
To be the one that reads the parenting books on how to manage sibling rivalry and strong willed children and puberty and every disorder that we diagnose them to have while we worry late at night…
Sometimes it is just SO exhausting to be it all.
But then one night as you realize they’ve grown older and they now come to you when it really begins to matter to solve their issues, you reconsider what it means to be “the one.”
The one that holds them crying when their boyfriend breaks up with them.
The one they look to first when they catch the winning touchdown at their game.
The one whose opinion they seek when they want to join math club but worry it makes them not seem cool.
The one they break down to when they hear their best friend’s parents are splitting up and then they ask, “Will that ever happen to you and Dad?”
The one they come to when they’re struggling with the way they look and they tell you that your opinion matters most.
That’s when it hits you, how blessed you are to be “the one.”
Because you then realize that you can’t get the good moments unless you get the bad moments too. And strangely you notice that those one million plus infinity of bad moments are all erased when you hear your 12-year-old say…
“Mom, I know I’m too old to feel scared at night, but I was wondering if you would come sit by me in my bed. For some reason, I can’t fall asleep and it sounds kind of funny to say, but when you’re near me, I always feel better. You’ve always been the one.”
And in that moment, you find yourself moved to tears as you thank God for the privilege of being “the one.”
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