08/18/2014 08:48 pm ET Updated Oct 18, 2014

Unexpected Perfection

It is barely 6 am and already the day is going wrong.

My almost-five year old -- who really, really needed a good night's sleep -- is already up and, literally, restless. I desperately want him to go back to bed and not just for my own selfish reasons: His older brothers are still asleep and I don't want him waking them. Like him, they were worn out from their first two days of summer camp and a Little League game that went too late last night.

I invite him into my bed and attempt some soothing cuddles, but I know this is hopeless. He just can't seem to stay still enough to fall back into a dream. And it's miserable trying to keep him here; he seems, suddenly, to be made entirely of knees and elbows, jostling every soft part of my body. He also tells me I kind of stink and should probably take a shower, which, I realize, is likely true. (Thanks, night sweats!)

I am using my super-gentle mommy voice -- which never, ever works -- telling him softly that his body needs more rest and it's still time to be asleep, but, inside my head, stressed-out mommy is already taking a more frantic tone. If he doesn't get more rest, he'll be a mess at camp. If he's a mess at camp, they'll make me come get him. If I have to go get him, I won't get any work done today. Today was supposed to be the day when I finally caught up from the two-week gap between the end of school and the start of camp, when I worked mostly from home, at night, in order to be with my kids during the day. Today was also supposed to be the day that I got back on track with losing the weight I packed on during this ridiculous winter and with the training plan I've barely followed for the marathon I dreamed of running. Today, the kids were supposed to sleep in a bit and I was supposed to get up early, organize my desk, make a[nother] to do list, and have life running perfectly by 7:00 am. But now, as I realize how little of what was supposed to happen will actually happen today, I just really want a donut and a live-in nanny and a winning lottery ticket. Or, maybe, I just want to be able to even remember what it was like, in my pre-kid existence, to have some control over my time.

I haven't slept well, either. The babysitter needs to change her hours. Again. I just paid $150 to order soccer uniforms for the fall, on top of the $300 in registration fees. My husband, self-employed and constantly on the road, feels like we're hemorrhaging money and I can't really disagree, though I think I did, on the phone, last night. Also, the air conditioner doesn't seem to be working. Sheesh, I really do stink.

Want to help mommy at my desk? I ask sweetly. I set up a chair for him and my label maker and tell him he can use that keyboard while I work on the computer. Five minutes of peace. Then he runs out of tape for labels.

There is a moment when I think I might cry. Or yell. Or just put my head down on the desk and pound it a couple of times.

But then I happen to look at my youngest son, perched in my big reading chair, from just the right angle and I notice how much taller he's suddenly gotten, how his adorably chubby baby legs are now thinning out into the shape of a lanky little boy. How is it that the last 30 minutes have seemed an eternity when the rest of his life has flown by so very, very quickly?

Mommy's done working for now.

We head downstairs to the big, comfy living room couch. I settle him there, grab a few books from his room and curl myself next to him.

We giggle through Tikki Tikki Tembo.

A few pages into Curious George, one older brother emerges, all sleepy-headed and joins us on the couch. A few pages further on, the other brother stumbles out from his room and piles on to the soft, black couch.

There's one more book left, Pete and Pickles, and the four of us, all entwined and stinky with morning breath, variously disheveled and out of sorts, read it together before breakfast, which is, by now, behind schedule.

"... what occurred to Pete was not how his life had become so unpredictable, so unpractical ... and so completely complicated with Pickles.

No, what occurred to Pete was his life without her."

Somehow, my three boys are all still small enough to fit together in my arms, but only just. And, so, for a few extra minutes this morning, I hold them. And it occurs to me that it is the most perfect morning I could never have imagined for myself.

This blog post is part of a series for HuffPost Moments Not Milestones, entitled 'The Moment I Stopped Being Perfect.' To see all the other posts in the series, click here.