Mothering many children can be exhausting. It can be hard to want to give more some days. But the littleness of our children offers unending refreshment if we take the time to notice it.
I heard once somewhere that a sigh is like a mental reboot.
I think that anyone who spends any substantial amount of time with some combination of multiple children understands that meeting all of their needs can be quite draining.
There are days where my arms burn, my feet ache, and my shoulders are sore from the constant lifting, swaying, and walking with a hefty baby who seems to be forever leaning and reaching while I try to keep my grip on her.
Occasionally when bedtime comes, my mind feels so tired that it takes sincere effort to go into my children’s rooms with a pleasant smile to hug and kiss them goodnight.
At times I find myself not wanting to take a little one to the potty again, or help someone get a drink of water again, or fix someone something to eat again, or settle another sibling dispute again.
And I sigh. A lot.
It is so easy to focus on myself when I’m tired at the end of a long day, or at the end of a long night. I think about what I want, what I feel I need, and how I’ve had to give those things up for a day in order to keep peace in the home and care for my family.
Maybe I tally up the few hours of sleep I got while a teething baby kept me up, or keep track of how much time I spent doing laundry, washing dishes, and cooking with so many little ones pulling me in so many directions. My list often grows to include all of the things I wanted to get done, but couldn’t.
I get tired, and I don’t want to serve anymore. Yes, I get a little selfish.
But then there are times, when by God’s grace and in the midst of what feels like exhausting home chaos, I can stop and take a step back to really look at my children.
I stop to notice the chubbiness of a baby’s toes, hands, and cheeks; the sound of her breathing, her giggling, her squealing, and her jabbering; the fluffiness of her hair and the roundness of her face.
I listen to the sound of my three-year old’s voice, her juvenile grammar, and the sweet ways she mispronounces words. I think about the ways she puts her little arms around my husband and me and squeezes our necks.
I look into the big brown eyes of my little five-year old guy and think about his fascination with dinosaurs, spiders, and snakes, and how he likes to tell us anything and everything about them. I replay the sound of his belly laugh and imagine the way he looks when he puts a hand over his mouth to hold in a giggle.
I focus on my oldest child’s sincere desire to do the right thing and please her parents. I remember all of the drawings and notes she has given us to tell us of her love, and I remember that even though she is growing up, she still loves being held by her daddy and sitting on my lap.
And I remind myself that it doesn’t seem that long ago that this seven-year old was the toddling baby, and that this little baby will be a seven-year old girl before I think she should be.
My children will not be little forever, and cherishing that littleness on the most draining of days offers the difference between a day that ends in defeat, and one that ends in hope and gratitude.
Is there something about your children’s littleness that refocuses your heart on the hard days?
This post was originally published in October 2012 and has been reworked and edited to share again.