I stood outside a bathroom stall waiting on my four year old. This was my THIRD trip to the bathroom within 15 minutes; the restaurant staff giggled as I had passed them that final time. I glanced up to see a sad reflection peering back at me from the mirror. Her eyes were tired and defeated; dark circles framed them. As I stared at her, her eyes became accusing. ‘How could you let this happen to me?’
And she was right. High school and college me would have been mortified by the sight of this heavier, exhausted, jaded version of me.
My life was no longer my own. The freedom that I had taken for granted during college had been reigned in considerably during my first years of marriage… and then had been completely squelched after the birth of my precious first born.
The permanence of my commitment to my children struck me again. ‘SIXTEEN more years… until my youngest is an adult.‘ How old would I be by then? I shuddered as I did the math. I had essentially given my entire life to the most thankless job known to mankind.
My life would continue to be filled with cleaning what no one else would clean and wiping what no one else would wipe. Exhaustion would continue to overwhelm me as my mind deliriously played watch guard over my children every night, straining against common sense to hear any imaginary noise it could fathom. And when my little ones were inconsolable, I alone would have the crushing burden of soothing them.
And to what end? To be thanked for keeping my children alive through the trials of toddlerhood by the raging hormones of a preteen? Or the rejection of a teenager? Fear clenched my heart at the thought. Is there really a stage in life past this current stage that is WORSE? Lord, may it be a lie from the pit of hell.
Sadness filled the eyes of the reflection before me. My body would never be the same. The birth of my children had aged me in a way I could have never imagined. Skin sagged; gray roots betrayed my now necessary habit of dying my hair.
Was it worth it?
The toilet flushed, bringing my mind back to the present. I heard the latch turn, and my four year old opened the door to the stall, smiling up at me.
My heart melted as she chattered to me while washing her hands. And as she took my hand to escort me back to our table yet again, I knew the answer in my heart.
Yes. My children are worth every bit of it.
Because despite the accusations of that exhausted reflection in the bathroom, I wouldn’t trade a moment of my life that I’ve invested into my children. I will continue to clean what no one else will clean and wipe what no one else would wipe… for the precious opportunity to hold their tiny hearts.