It’s the end of a long day and I’m 36 weeks pregnant. The thought of cool sheets on my round belly sounds sublime.
But one last thing: flick the light on in the hallway, tiptoe over to bunk beds.
Heave myself gently over the side rail that keeps my two-year-old from rolling onto the floor. He is a little jelly bean in the center of a vast bed, snuggled up beneath fleece, his neck stretched up and back, the blonde mop fanned out like a broom on top of a Roman soldier’s helmet.
It just wants to be kissed, such a vulnerable stretch of skin, his face so earnestly asleep.
What a privilege, are the words that jog across my mind as I gaze upon my boy. Why did God give me this perfect little child?
I do sometimes ask this question during the day, as well…but the adjectives sound more like why did God give me this wild/ screaming/ crazy little devil? A day with preschoolers can turn the sweetest mother into Cruella Deville–at least by 8:00pm, when she might have been with them since a quarter to seven in the morning.
I climb the ladder to look at my daughter. She nearly fills the bed now. Five-years-old, body long and strong. I can’t help but caress her exposed calf. It’s so full of energy, a sequel to the chubby limbs that once barely bumped beneath the blankets. Her face is peaceful, her lips almost-red. Hair cascades around her face, and the nightgown askew on her shoulders makes me smile.
Thank you, rises in my mind with a slowness as though each letter was a syllable. The grace of what it means to be responsible for two living, breathing beings washes over me. Is it possible to treasure them enough?
I tiptoe out of the room, willing myself to carry this moment into tomorrow, when the little boy will scream like he is dying as I wipe his bottom and the little girl will say belligerently, Ok-ay Mommy when I tell her she cannot wear my favorite maxi dress right now and he will throw his smoothie on the floor at breakfast and she will whine and beg for one more page even though I’ve just spent a half-hour reading with her.
Cruella leans against the wall outside their room, slides slowly down it (bracing her baby belly), and forgets the angst. The magic of sleeping babies erases the challenges of this day.
We thank God for these moments, these bubbles of grace where the beauty of life wells up and overflows in a way that gives strength for a new morning, mercy for a new day. There is privilege in it all. Gratitude smooths over the difficulty and life’s preciousness comes into view.
What moments have awakened you to the preciousness of life? How has gratitude transformed you (from Cruella to something else)?