The baby is screaming, the toddler is in the almost-but-not-yet stage of potty training, and one of the big boys has a cold with the snotty attitude to prove it. Some mornings I long for a stunt double.
A nanny, a tutor, a housekeeper ... anyone willing to step in for the impossible, disgusting, and dangerous parts of my life, while I drink coffee backstage. To un-goop floors, enforce the media restriction, soothe the fussy baby, wipe the runny noses. I want someone to show up and make being a mom easier. I'll take over again when life gets to the good part.
The problem is, I suspect this is the good part.
The Internet would suggest otherwise. Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram offer a deluge of glimpses into perfect moments, and I'm chief among sinners. "Look at my delightful baby as he crawls into the sunset," I say with my photos. "Check out my little pirates." "Did I mention I live in God's country?" Those moments do happen, and I capture them because they captivate me. But most of my family life? Is this. It's following through with discipline, parsing sibling squabbles, singing nursery rhymes from the side of the tub. It's nursing a runny nose on a day when I have other plans. I spend most of my time right here, between the gruesome and the frustrating. And this is where I can best show my love.
My children don't understand I love them because of cute ideas or filtered photos. They understand love when they experience it, and they experience love when I care for them. Love to a little kid is a full plate, another minute to be held, a kind word in response to a sharp one. We all need love the most in the moments when we feel the worst. If I skipped the gruesome parts of mothering I would also miss the chance to show them love. The stunt double would get all of the good stuff.
I pull my grumpy little boy into my lap, offering a cold drink for his scratchy throat, and he relaxes his weight against my chest. I cheer when my little girl uses the potty, and she claps too, proud of herself because I am proud of her. Some days I wish for an easier life. But I cannot imagine a better one.