When my girls were born, there was nothing in this world that I could imagine would ever make me angry with them. The euphoria of watching this little thing that grew inside of me, something that was truly a part of me, something that only I knew from the very beginning of her formation, bonded me to them like I could have never imagined. But raising strong confident daughters concerns me now. In order to do that, I think, I have to start giving it back to them. The same patience, calmness and resilience that they had when they were born.

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Newborns are squishy, sweet and so incredibly loved. It does not seem to matter that our bodies hurt from carrying and birthing them, that our sleep patterns are so erratic that we can barely focus on anything else, or that the house is dirty, the laundry is piled up and our head hurts.

We have that baby. That baby that turned the stick blue, kicked in the middle of the night for the first time, made us pee 80 times a day and came out looking at us for assurance that the outside world would be as safe as the inside one.

We had the strength and the desire to be nothing but this person’s mom. Their forever heart that they will always know they belong to.

We laughed when they peed on our laps. We consoled when they screamed for us at 3am, we checked on them in the middle of the night to make sure they were breathing. At least, that was our excuse. We really just wanted to watch those eyes dance behind the sleeping lids, their little fists clenching with active thoughts and their lips purse and suck as if they were latched to us.

As these precious gifts grew, however, I noticed something strange happening. My patience started to thin a bit as my kids learned to talk back. Their cuteness started to wear off when they pulled their sister’s hair. And the peeing in the pants thing drew disappointment and no longer laughter. When my kids are up at 3am, I am a grouchy mess! I mean, can’t they just sleep through the night by now?

I do still check on them in the middle of the night. I still do touch their bellies to make sure they are breathing. And I still wake at the slightest noise that does not seem right. I adore my daughters. More than I can even put into words.

But, sometimes, after a particularly hard day of getting them up, dealing with each of their peculiarities, getting them presentable to the public, dealing with homework, sisterly fights, the endless battle over bedtime and the night after night screaming of “MOOOOOM” in the middle of the night, I lose my ability to be all lovey, patient and sane with them.

It is expected, really, that as children grow and test their boundaries, we parents find it harder and harder to see the imaginary bow over their heads. The one that was attached by God when he gave us these presents.

But, even knowing that, I want that ability to see them as the precious little angels they are more often – even when they stick their hip out and scream NO at me. I want to give them back that patient, loving mom who always had an empty lap, no matter how many other kids are on it. That mom that looks at them and sees nothing but the amazing beauty each has – even when they get into my new make up and spread it all over the bathroom. The one that can ignore the trials more easily and celebrate the triumphs more often.

It happens more and more as I become more used to being a single mom and more distant from the suffocation of the marriage. I still smile huge when they get off the bus, their little legs stretching to the very tips just to get down the stairs. I still want photos of them when I catch them sleeping or a light catches them and makes them shine. I still well up with tears when I think of how they have grown. And how much I wish I could go back and imprint in my mind better.

Yes, it may be in a different way now. It may not be their baby hands clenching my finger but their little girl hands clenching a lost tooth for the tooth fairy under her pillow. It may not be the laughter of the look a baby gives when they spit up and their tummy is suddenly better, but the sucking of the spaghetti strand right into their mouths. It may not be the open mouth kiss from an infants, but a simple ‘I love you mom’ that escapes when you least expect it.

But in there, beneath the struggles with homework, the fight over the same toy, the sassiness that makes you cringe with memories of your own smart mouth growing up, the euphoria is there. Finding a way to let it out more often is the way I can give it back to them.

And to me too.