Today, I had a lot of people in my house.
It was fun. I like having parties, as long as they have an expiration time, and this one did. I've been feeling isolated lately (one of the negatives of living in a colder climate instead of a warm one, as well as living in a house instead of an apartment complex). So when our church was out of commission for the weekly playdate, I volunteered my house. We have the space, we have a ridiculous amount of toys, and I am always happy to give Cal opportunities to socialize. (He spent the entire playdate looking at books in his room. But I can't really fault him for that, as that is my preferred activity, too).
A couple of kids stayed over a little longer because their mom had a meeting. I felt very proud of myself as I whipped up four lunches and mediated toy disputes (in a house full of toys, everyone wants the stupid plastic thing from the McDonald's Happy Meal). Nolan had refused his morning nap, probably because of the excitement of so many friends, so as soon as he'd eaten a respectable amount, I whisked him upstairs to bed. He continued to resist, so I instructed the kids to be nice to each other (they were), and I spent ten minutes rocking him to sleep.
I don't usually rock Nolan to sleep in the daytime. (Nighttime is another matter -- typically he wakes up between the hours of midnight and two, I stumble into his room, pick him up, and wake up 45 minutes later with a crick in my neck and Nolan's drool on my arm). But as I sat with him, watching his eyelids drop lower and lower, feeling his breathing slow and steady, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for that space to be slow and present.
I complain a lot about the inconvenient parts of motherhood. It's hard. It's hard to make meals that nobody eats, to clean up messes that simply reappear when my back is turned, to try every moment to do what's right for my children only to have them hit me and scream at me. It's not always like that. It's not even mostly like that. But sometimes those loud moments overpower the sweeter, quieter ones.
I returned downstairs to see three little kids, ages 3, 4, and 5, sitting on our little bench, singing songs together. I wanted to squeeze them all, even the ones that aren't mine. It was a hectic day, but I was given the gift of seeing the beauty in the cracks. It's all I can ask for.