Falling in love. Or, to be more accurate: staying in love.
It doesn't always happen. Staying in love is a lot of work. Especially with our children.
Some days - months, years, seasons - are just hard. We hear about that all the time. The little years especially, all the struggles they entail.
And let's pause for a moment so as not to minimize the flat out WORK of these years. It is hard. Draining. Sleep schedules, sleep training, sleep deprivation, the cleaning up of ALL of the things, making the food, picking up toys, changing diapers, potty training, carrying those babies in their carseats, getting out the door, soldiering on through bedtime, again, and again, and again. Wake up and repeat. Phew.
(It's adorable because you didn't have to clean up the floor afterward.)
Sometimes, it happens. An ordinary day, or week, or month. But the stars have aligned. Maybe everyone slept well the previous night. Breakfasts were eaten. Moods and spirits are high. Listening ears have been turned on. The toddlers are filled with cheerful, giggly camaraderie. A perfect equilibrium.
And you find yourself doing the most ordinary of things: walking down the dairy aisle of Target, in my case. And you realize...
Hey...These kids - my kids - they're pretty GREAT!
You listen as they chitter-chatter about their favorite kinds of cheese (not gouda or feta, mind you, but the kind that have been branded with Frozen characters). "Coffee - you need that for your coffee, mommy!" is shouted as they point to the heavy cream in its case. Hey, I do. Thanks for the reminder, guys. They discuss gifts for their new baby cousin (a baby doll "just like mine!" from the toddler girl, a "shaker thing", aka rattle, because "babies love shaker things!" from the toddler boy). They sit nicely, calmly, making little toddler jokes and enjoying each other's company.
The baby happily munches on a cracker from his perch inside the cart and you realize that you haven't really been paying attention to where you've been steering that thing, because these kids? Are kind of awesome. Look at them - look at us - all out in public and making conversation and giggling and behaving ourselves! You want to squish them and kiss their cheeks and laugh with them some more, because this? This is FUN! Right now you'd be content to just keep on pushing that cart forever. Of course that won't happen. There are things like lunches to make, naps to be had, an entire schedule to attend to. And also you should get that gallon of milk somewhere with refrigeration, stat.
Sometimes the feeling lasts for a moment. Only until you reach the checkout lane. Or just until the chaos of bedtime. Occasionally the stars really align and the feeling lasts for days, or even weeks.
(Like when they discover the joy of entertaining their OWN DANG SELVES. Can I get an amen?)
It's a simple story, nothing new, tale as old as time. But every now and then it reaches out and catches you, on the most ordinary of days. You want things to stay this way, just like this, forever. This moment, that mood, this feeling, these kids. For any of it to change, for time to move on, feels like the ultimate tragedy. And even though they are your children, you realize that you're living what can't be anything other than a love story.