There is a moment in our familial week days when The Click happens.
I'll be at the dinner table with Zoe and Sam trying every trick known to moms to keep this Under 6 set eating and engaged. (Dinner, man. Start early, and stay strong.) When I'm in my groove, I've usually got it down. But lately, we are having THOSE DAYS. Perhaps things were thrown (by them). Possessions destroyed (uh-huh). Vocal chords just sad and achy from shouting (that'd be me). Wit has ceased, y'all.
But then, we hear it. We've waited for it, this wave of saving grace, to echo into the kitchen. You engage so quickly and intently with no wobble of your keys. Our eyes pop and our hearts fill.
The Click's happened, that familiar turn of the front door lock, and it is on. Daddy's home! YES. Just. YES.
It doesn't matter what last parental note was played or card dealt. Whatever tactical negotiation to eat just three more carrots, nonsensical chicken joke, or leave-your-sister-leave-your-brother-alone sermon is underway -- it all shuts down. Right now, in this precise moment, it's just one of THOSE DAYS. My tank feels dangerously close to gas-station panic after I've rushed and internally cussed through the last hour. Mom needs her relief pitcher. They might not know it, but I do.
Then, with just a turn of the key, that smile, that knowing look -- I Got You -- I breathe again. They barrel toward you like uncaged baby mountain lions, cramming in every glorious story and ounce of amazing from their day in just seconds. You don't even have your coat off and you're basking in it. You are tired too, exhausted, really, but manage to find your magical reserves button. Your face lights up like Navy Pier on the Fourth of July. The room warms again. It's spectacular.
You are their special light. You are mine.
As I head to the sink to do some dishes and make tomorrow's lunches, their screeching and squeals move to background noise. I know I only have a few minutes. As you wrangle them toward the bathtub for what will be another epic battle royale on your parenting resume, I quietly restore and reflect over the grease and suds. I find a faux but necessary silence in the running water. The warm water in my hands, the PB&J missing the bread and staining my shirt, the soundtrack of our daily chaos on blast... the challenge of finding the balance in between.
The blessing in knowing I'm about to have your back too.
Then, the Other Click. The tub/shower drain plug has popped and the madness that was bath time needs to move to the next round. You're bruised and battered after a good fight, and I can feel you're ready to tag team. I'm on my way, towels ready, with what strength I've mustered up in my "alone" time to get us through until lights out.
That's just it, right? Whether one of us needs a tag out, a double team or just a kiss and hug of reassurance, we're in this together. It is the backbone of our family's journey. With it, there is less fear, great lessons in challenge, more joy and love.
Lots and lots of love.