For me it starts out with my twin babies playing on the floor until suddenly they are discontent. I’m almost positive they give each other a wink and a fist bump before they begin their first whimpers.
I go over and smile at them, trying to see if their toys hold any more interest. They take the toys, and I get up, thinking it has passed. Wrong.
I go back and pick up the one who is crying, but as I begin patting his back, his brother starts crying in protest that I didn’t pick him up as well. I’m calm. I’m cool. This isn’t my first rodeo.
I grab a nearby stray sock (because those are randomly everywhere, yet they are nowhere when I need them). “Look, a sock! Wouldn’t you love playing with this bright yellow sock?” He takes it and his crying temporarily subsides. Capitalize on the moment.
A binky. Where’s a binky? I begin to search the apartment.
Enter my toddler. “Mommy, can I have apple juice please?” He even said “please.” Stay positive. “Just a minute, Sweet Boy. I need to find a binky first. Could you help me?” He starts searching.
The crying in the living room is growing louder. My gaze narrows on the baby swing. Sometimes they love it; sometimes they hate it. It’s a gamble I’m willing to take. I strap in the baby I’m holding, and he doesn’t complain. Success.
I pick up the crying baby in the living room and start looking for the binky.
“Mommmmyyyyyy! Can I please have some apple juice nowwww?”
Whining. Oh, please, not the whining. “I’m trying really hard to find a binky. Just give me a minute.”
Just then the baby I’m holding spits up. I’m not talking about a burp with just a bit of dribble; I mean smelly, thick, half-digested milk gushes onto my arm and recently-vacuumed carpet. From the kitchen I hear, “Mommmmyyyyyy! Apple juuuuuuice!”
Something in me snaps.
Is anybody out there nodding your head in familiarity? Has anyone else abandoned all reason and gone to lie in the fetal position on your closet floor, wide-eyed and mumbling, “They eat, they sleep, they cry. They eat, they sleep, they cry.”
Let’s all take a deep breath.
Inhale . . .
And exhale . . .
A lot of people would say differently, but surely Thomas Paine was actually talking about moments like this when he penned the words, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Right? I’m sure of it.
And try, and try, and try your soul again they will. But luckily these are just moments. I remind myself often that this is just part of what my life looks like right now. Accepting the hard parts gives me more peace and more emotional space to think back on the sweet parts of my day.
I think about how bright my kids’ eyes get when they smile at me. How mushy their cheeks are when I nuzzle into them to give them a raspberry on their neck.
I think about how funny it is to watch the confusion on their faces as they look at their hands like, “Whoa! How’d you get here?!” Or how sweet it is to cradle them in my arms and have them stare up at me with those big, wide eyes.
I think about how incredibly soft their skin is. How their laughter instantly brings a smile to my face. How their chubby, warm hands feel when they’re excitedly patting my face. That big, dopey smile they get after they’ve downed a bunch of milk.
These moments are worth the times that try my soul.
QUESTION: What strategies do you use to see past the moments that try your soul?
CHALLENGE: Write down three sweet moments from your day today (or yesterday).
Edited by Kat Tilby and Sarah Monson.
Image from author; graphic by Anna Jenkins.