You will never be this loved again.

"You will never be this loved again. So on those days where you are feeling stressed out, touched out, and depleted, just remember that you will never be this loved again. One day you will long for their affection. So choose a soft voice, choose gentle hands, choose love."

A friend of mine posted this quote to her Instagram after experiencing a long day with her teething baby boy, and when I read it, I cried. I sat upstairs on my couch, staring at my phone and listening to my girls tumble around me, and I just cried. I wish I knew who "AK" was because I'd email her and thank her for reminding me how truly wonderful it is to be filled each day with the amount of love that my heart is filled with. 

It's true. Never in my life have I felt so loved as I have over the past six plus years. My girls hold me so tight so frequently that I often wonder if my skin is really my own anymore, or if it is just an extension of theirs now. I'm sticky when they're sticky. I'm covered in frosting if they're covered in frosting. My clothes are decorated with dozens of stickers just as their clothes are. Who would I be without them? What would my wardrobe look like minus those Frozen and Tinkerbell stickers? I suppose they'd be pretty boring. 

I have decided the hardest thing for me as a parent is coming to terms with the fact that some of my goals, desires and dreams must be put on hold as I tend to this incredible duty I've chosen. A few weeks ago a friend asked me about my goals for the new year, and I immediately felt embarrassed when I admitted that I am pretty goal-less. I used to make goals to visit a certain number of museums a year or to read a certain number of novels, but I have learned that it is useless and very frustrating to make such goals, knowing they cannot be completed without a miracle. I told her that my main focus was enjoying motherhood in the moment. I tend to miss out on special moments happening right before my eyes because I am so focused on what I need to do next. I've been this way my whole life. I didn't love being a student until my final year and a half at college. I didn't fully embrace being a missionary until I was saying goodbye to friends in my second area (11 months into my mission). And it took me over a year to really love the idea of being someone's wife. Although our first year of marriage was rather blissful, I fought a brutal inner battle as I tried to figure out what the hell I was doing. The same thing happened to my first two years as a mother.

I quickly realized I was missing the moments that mattered when we began moving for Tim's job. Being alone in a new state every year helped me come to grips with who I was as a woman, a daughter, a granddaughter, a friend, and especially, a wife and mother. Each year I would go through pictures we had taken in the previous location and feel ashamed that I couldn't recall memories without the help of pictures. I would remember an event, but instead of enjoying the event, all I could remember was feeling stressed because so-and-so was throwing a tantrum or whatever the situation happened to be at the moment. Halfway through our time in Wisconsin I decided I wanted to stop being that person; I wanted to stop stressing out about the unexpected happenings and enjoy the moment. 

For the most part, I'm succeeding. I still stress out about things I have no control over. I think it's going to take me a lifetime to learn how not to do this. The past two days have been snow days here in Texas, which I know is laughable to my Wisconsin friends, but because Texas doesn't put salt anywhere after freezing rain, it actually is pretty gnarly outside. When I woke up yesterday, I threw the covers over my head and grumbled how yesterday was going to be sooooo long. Knowing I'd have all the kids all day long made me cringe, especially because I figured we'd be stuck inside all day. By 9:30am, I had nearly had it with them and their constant whining when I remembered the above quote. I came downstairs, collected my wits, and invited the girls to join me in the kitchen to make cookies. We laughed as the mixer flung cookie dough all over the counter, spurring a quick race to see who could collect the most dough. After I put the cookies in the oven, I looked out the window and saw some of our neighbors taking advantage of the slanted driveways that had been iced over by sledding down them at rapid speeds. I urged the girls to get their winter clothes on and we tiptoed outside and went slip-sliding down the driveway. We borrowed our neighbor's sled and took a few runs down the other driveways in the neighborhood. I haven't laughed that hard in such a long time. By the time we came inside, my attitude about the day had dramatically changed.

This morning I did not grumble even though I knew my kids would not be venturing outside due to the crazy ice. I decided I would be happy no matter what, and I was for 90% of the day (navigating a packed grocery store with four kids--three of whom were determined to push their own mini-carts--only to find one gallon of milk left in the dairy department was not very fun). We gave each other manicures, painted pictures, made pizza, played sorry, built towers with legos, stuck stickers on all parts of my clothing and hugged a lot today. Today I felt so loved. I really will miss these days because it seems like no matter what I do--be it good or bad--my kids love me completely. They are forgiving and kind to me as I continue to learn about motherhood.

How I am as a mother, wife, daughter, granddaughter, friend, and woman is my choice. 

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"Be kind and considerate with your criticism... It's just as hard to write a bad book as it is to write a good book." Malcolm Cowley