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Saturday was one of “those” days. The day had been long and the evening was supposed to be winding down but life is funny that way in that it never does what it is supposed to do. Baby A is in my arms and I am rocking her steady but she is just crying and fussing and I am shushing and she is adamant on crying. And my oldest daughter is in the middle of the living room floor, crouched low and whining because she needs to go to bed but instead she picks up a toy in frustration and throws it. And I keep rocking because I know if I put the baby down her scream will increase tenfold so I just make the sternest face possible and wiggle my finger “no” at my daughter and she looks right at me and throws another toy. Meanwhile the two boys are still at the table, still not eating and my oldest informs me that the younger has decided to paint his hands with the sauce from his beef stroganoff and that there is a gooey mess waiting for me to clean.

That study I was working on, on learning how to breathe and take things slow, learning to rest? I am about four days lacking even though there is not a set schedule but I am four days in need of reminding myself of it.

Exhale.

Looking back on the weekend I can brush it off, say to myself that is daily life- and it is- of a mother with young kids. Reading back over it it even sounds comical, like the scene from a movie.

In the moment? Not so much.

So I enlisted the help of the oldest to clean up his brother and I sat the baby down and scooped up my daughter with reprimands and took her upstairs to bed. I came back down and resumed rocking and spouted off warnings to my boys to eat their dinner. And I may or may not have asked my husband what time he was getting off work again, hoping it hints that he should come home earlier if he can.

These are not proud moments. These are not moments that win me the “best mom” award. These are not moments where I feel like I even remotely have it together.

But these are real moments.

These are the moments that remind me that I cannot do it all, that I am not superwoman/mom and that balancing my life and the life of four little ones is no small task. I am reminded that I am not the only one that day in and day out is in the midst of their own daily life and conquering situations like these, situations that are “just life.”

It’s “just life” but I wouldn’t change it because it is not just life but my life, my little ones, my craziness and chaos and tiredness and endless rocking of the baby.

It’s my life and there is joy in it.

Joy in the smiles and peaceful snorts of laughter when the baby finally sleeps.

Joy in the boys telling me they liked the dinner that they took an hour to eat and how they think I am the best cook ever.

Joy in my daughter hugging me tight as I carry her up stairs, stroking my hair and telling me she loves me.

Joy in knowing the kids are safe and know they are loved.

Joy in triumphs in school when the oldest masters his site word list and tells himself he can do it, building his confidence and self-esteem.

I didn’t think I would find so much joy, so much to be thankful for, a purpose, being home all the time. It sounds selfish admitting it but the struggle was hard adjusting. I am still adjusting. Yet when I learn to slow down, to take it one day at a time instead of looking forward to the weekends only or the next paycheck, my focus and priorities shift to what really matters. I know I can work again but these moments- even the less pleasant ones- will not come back; the children will not stay young or magically go back in time to revisit these moments.

Joy comes in the morning. Even after evenings like Saturday. Even after the day has been filled with tears and fights between the kids and tempers flaring. Even through the long nights of rocking and consoling while the rest of the house sleeps.

Exhaling. Breathing. Slowing down. Finding the joy. It really is the secret to sanity and the calming of my anxiety and the acceptance that I am not, after all, superhuman and am instead just a flawed human trying to raise kids a little less flawed than me.

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