"Momma, how much do you love me?" she asked in her sweetest, most precious little-girl voice.
It's the dance we play, round and round, over and again. Same question, same answer...
...and it never gets old.
"To the moon and back," I say. "And then, when I get back from the moon, I love you to infinity and beyond times a hundred-fifty thousand."
After my reply, we always laugh and give kisses. But really? What words could possibly explain this bottomless pit of love and devotion these beautiful creatures have carved out in me?
My best boy asks the same question, but lately his questions are a little more pointed. Like, "momma, why are you never here in the afternoons and never home for dinner?"
Sigh. (*knife in heart*)
"Well, sweetie, where do I go each afternoon?" I ask him.
"To the TV station," his response, automatic. "So you can buy us toys and things."
Something like that, I think to myself. There's no easy response.
As he gets older, I recognize he just wants time. One of the greatest gifts you can give children. Presence and time with his momma.
The needles start hitting the backs of my eyeballs at the thought of this. I've worked from the time he was born up until now, and I have no plans of quitting. But for as much fulfillment comes from my work and as much good I'm given the sweet opportunity to do, there's a price. Time away from my babies. Time I'll never get back.
Life is not perfect. It's a splendid dance, twirling around from one responsibility to the next, all the while hoping to keep the balance, keep the peace.
I'm dancing it this week. They're on a 7-day trip with their father, and the house is so quiet.
My mom-friends keep telling me to enjoy the break. Truth be told, I need and want it. But now that I have the down time, what's so great about it? My son and daughter are my two favorite people on this earth. Their company is the best company. Yet I will admit, to finally let-down alone is lovely.
And therein lies the gentle push and pull of being a parent. The heart-wrenching holding on and letting go that we must allow. Gently guiding our children and then backing off to let them find their own way. It's not for the faint of heart, and it's serious business.
So serious that when they called the other night from their vacation, I scrambled for the phone and answered in desperation, knowing they must just miss me terribly and need their momma so.
"Hi momma," I heard, in the most monotone, obligatory, forced-to-call-their-mom voice.
"Are you ready to come home?" I ask....
"No! Never. We wanna stay here forever!"
(BOOM goes mom's ego!)
So today, love to the moon and back, and this: