Squeals of delight at the bright new day float into my ears as I lie in bed waiting (half asleep) for the first child to get up. Bags under my half-shut eyes and hair sticking out in every direction, I stumble into the kids’ bedroom. As I sit down on the floor to change the first diaper, my oldest daughter (3) leans over to me and says sweetly, “Mommy, you’re pretty.” I pause for a moment. I most certainly am not, I think.
My 8-month-old chooses that moment to press his drooly face into the mesh side of his pack-n-play and look over at me, big grin, as if I’m the best thing he ever laid eyes on. That’s when my groggy head processes the identical exchange.
They don’t care about how my hair looks, if my clothes are free of kid-related stains, or even whether I’m smiling. They see Mommy. And Mommy makes them happy. And Mommy sets the tone for the rest of the day.
“Baby, you’re pretty too.” I smile at my oldest daughter. “I pretty too?” the younger (2) inquires, bouncing over to me. “Of course–you’re pretty, too, honey.”
“I love you, Mommy.” my 5-year-old gushes. The 8-month-old squeals and babbles something incoherent. I give them each a big smooch and lift the littlest over my head, which results in giggles all around. “I love you, too, buddy,” I lean over. “And I’m so, so proud of all of you.”