I sat down to write about how the longest three minutes of my day are the most valuable. About how those 90 seconds I spend “spider-crawling” Oliver between stories and songs and our kiss goodnight make me a better mother. How watching his little 4-year-old body, under sheets adorned with treasure chests and pirate ships is the lifeblood of our relationship. I was about to write about how important those three minutes are for us – sitting there in the quiet, just me and him. How he begs for those few extra minutes and I acquiesce because he’s growing up so fast and I want to soak in every ounce of these moments, before they’re gone forever.
But I’m not going to write about that. Not because it isn’t true. It is. But I am not going to write about that because I am not going to guilt you into spending three more minutes with your children. Because you already do. You already spend every waking moment – or close to it – with your kiddos. And when you’re not with them, you’re thinking about them. And that’s great. Because you’re a mom and that’s what we do. It’s our job. But what is not our job is to guilt ourselves (and other moms out there) into thinking that we’re not doing enough. That we should be doing more.
More? More waking? More feeding? More bathing? More reading? Playing? Supervising? Wiping? Pretending? Refereeing? Cooing? Watching? Comforting? Chasing? Bathing? Worrying? Tickling?
We do it all. And sure, it makes them feel loved, but not because we’re checking all the little boxes of what a “good mom” should do. They will feel loved simply because we are there. We are present. We make them feel valued. They will feel loved simple because we are their mamas and we show them love with every little thing that we do – from the way we cut the crusts off their grilled cheese to the way we scoop them up in a warm towel after their bath.
Sure, we could all “do it better”, as my sister likes to say. We could all do more art projects, jump in more puddles and linger a little bit longer at the park – and there are days when we do!
And then there are days when we just. can’t. And on those days, the days when coloring one more Ninja Turtle picture will certainly send me straight into the arms of an orderly at a mental institution, on those days, my children won’t forget that I love them. They will not suffer. They will not be left wanting. On those days, my children will play with each other and I will take deep, cleansing breaths in my bedroom, until I can emerge, no longer wanting to strangle Leonardo.
And we will all be just fine.