Evie pees on the potty, but somehow manages to get it everywhere else in the bathroom too.
Evie empties her dresser drawers of all of her clothing, and she fills them instead with rocks, with junk mail flyers, with a crumpled paper towel from her peanut butter and jelly sandwich and marbles swiped from her brothers.
She’s grumpy by four o’clock. She’s a whining, terrible crab, who stomps her feet and throws cracker wrappers to the ground.
She shrieks when I leave for work. She tells me she hates work. She hates daddy’s work. She hates my work. She wants us home. Now.
And, there are times, when she is an overtired Donald Duck type angry caricature of true self, blue in the lips screaming, pink faced wailing, that sometimes walking about the door for work turns into running, turns into me actually wanting to go. And quickly.
But in the morning, every morning, she’s new. And she comes to my bedside with her gentlest touch and her softest voice and tells me, she loves me. She crawls up onto Vinnie’s side of the bed and lays with me. She asks sweetly for breakfast things, though she knows that she can go and have alongside the other kids, she likes to ask.
She likes to talk to me. She likes to hear affirmation.
The rest of the day will be a cluster of spills and markers on the wrong surfaces and dropping glasses of juice and somehow splattering pee all over my bathroom floor. The rest of the day will be love, but firm love. It will be me, loving unconditionally, as she struggles with life as a three year old, and I struggle with life as a mother to a three year old (and five year old and seven year old and nine year old.)
The rest of the day will be declarations of love from her, after I’ve helped her put her shoes on the right feet – followed most immediately by declarations of anger, when I let her know that though she wanted to put her shoes on, we’re, um, not actually going outside.
And we’ll love each other, right to each others angry, frustrated faces. When one says no and the other says yes, we’ll still love each other.
She can give me her terrible, her grumpy, her messy, her I’m-too-tired-for-life-but-refuse-to-sleep, rage.
And I can give her my firm noes and my equally grouchy why-on-earth-did-you-think-THAT-was-a-good-idea???? moments.
Because, we are unconditional.
Motherhood is sometimes advertised as the cleaning of bodily fluids, and never having ten minutes to yourself, even in the bathroom. It’s losing sleep, losing your bikini body, losing sense of self. It’s forgetting your coffee mug in the microwave. It’s leaving your shopping cart in Target and carrying a tantrum kicking toddler from the store. It’s sharing your bed. It’s sticky, sweaty hugs in an unairconditioned room. It’s crumbs and dirt and the fine silt of a messy life over everything in your home.
And it’s true, motherhood is a screaming Evaline at four o’clock and it’s poop where there should be no poop (usually when you’re JUST about to walk out the door for work/church/whatever-is-left-of-your-social-life.)
Motherhood is everything that should break you. It’s everything that should make you run screaming for the hills.
But the truth is, it’s also a miracle.
It’s a transformation of the heart that is the closest thing to magic I think I’ll ever know.
This morning, the sweetness of bedtime cuddles has moved on to siblings arguing over whose turn it is on the Kindle and demands for snacks (because breakfast was already SO long ago.)
And, I’m thinking of every possible mistake, every spill, or rip, or tear, every hurtful word, callous action, selfish motive, hateful transgression, shocking revelation. I’m trying to imaging any possible scenario that could change my heart toward my children, any possible weight that would be too heavy to bear.
And there is none.
I’m in too deep, with these people, these children of mine who are going to keep growing and who will eventually stop filling their dresser drawers with garbage and peeing on my bathroom floor. They’ll find new ways to test me, new ways to test themselves that will make me question everything I’ve done as their mother, I’m sure.
But this love, it’s unconditional.
And to have that, even in the craggy recesses of my selfish human heart, is a gift to my soul.