The baby beside me cries, protesting another nap.
Head throbs. Eyes fill. Patience falters.
Why are they so needy? I feel like I have nothing left to give today. It's never enough. I've read endless stories. I've built playdough cars. I've cooked and fed and cleaned. I've changed diapers, wiped bottoms. I've nursed and nursed and nursed.
Soon their father will be home, hungry, wanting supper before heading to work for the evening, leaving me alone again to care and clean and put them to bed. Then more cleaning, and then surely one of them will wake, needing my comfort, and perhaps when they are once again asleep I will finally finally finally have a moment to sit down and just be still.
The baby stops crying, considers sleep. The door opens and I cringe, try to silently shoo the lonely boy out, mouthing I'll be right there.
But no, "I have something for you, Mommy." He holds it towards me and how can I refuse? I nod him in. He rushes over and hands me the gift, a blue pipecleaner he's made into a flower for me, his mama, the one who has today snapped at him more times than she wants to admit. No! Hurry! Faster! Stop! My precious boy, I'm so sorry.
I smile my thanks and assure him again that I will be there soon, there to meet more needs, to give more of myself.
The phone rings and I know he'll bring it to me, he always does, and sure enough the ringing soon fills the room and the baby cries again and I've missed the call anyway and my head pounds harder.
I think of all the times I've dreamed of going to another country to cuddle and care for lonely babies, babies who have no mother and father. But the cries nudge me, you have babies here, and they too need my love and touch and care. I am doing the Father's work. I am caring for these children, these ones here in my home, these ones I have been given, these two boys of mine and the sweet third who joins us during our long days.
I recall what older, wiser mothers have told me: The days are long, but the years are short. I know I will see the truth in it one day, looking back. Some days are just like this. Tonight we'll snuggle, pick out the best moments of the day and offer them up to God as thanks.
And tomorrow we'll try again.