By Kayci Villarreal
“Honey, take a picture,” I told my husband.
“What, now?” he replied doubtfully.
“Yes. I want to remember this.”
I could understand his hesitation—this was never going to make it onto the Christmas card or the mantle. Instead it was an ordinary Saturday morning in the chaos before the day’s real chaos started.
I sat at the kitchen table in my pajamas, surrounded by the syrup-soaked plates and half-drunk cups of coffee from breakfast. My seven-year-old son sat in my lap with his arms around my neck and his face buried in my shoulder. My right arm was curled around him, rubbing his back as I comforted him in the wake of some big feelings about a bad dream he’d had.
My other arm was extended to the high chair where my eight-month-old daughter sat. I made choo choo sounds as I coaxed her to take a bite from the spoon I held to her clamped-shut mouth. Behind me were the dishes from the meal I’d cooked, unopened mail, a spilled box of Cheerios, and various debris from the week that I still hadn’t had time to put away.
This was not the reality I show to the world. This behind-the-scenes tableau was the “before” picture that no one is supposed to see. There was nary a craft project or tidy stack of books in sight. Everything was a mess. I was a mess.
But this mess, this chaos, this overwhelming state of everyone needing something, is our life. Every day is filled with tears, with hugs, with tantrums, with laughs. Often many of these things at once. There are errands to run, messes to clean, and little ones who need me every minute of the day.
There are also moments of pure joy with the people who are my whole world. There are silly songs and belly laughs and hours-long games of Monopoly. Reading books together, building the ten thousandth block tower for the baby to knock down, and long walks where we–quite literally–stop to smell the roses.
These moments are fleeting. The good and the bad, they will all fade into a blurry memory as the years pass. My children will grow and we all may remember the amusement parks we visited and the vacations we took, but I know all too well how easy it will be to forget the small, everyday things that make up our daily lives right now. And I don’t want to forget. So I asked him to take the picture.
My husband got out his phone and took a quick snapshot. You can’t see either of my kids’ faces, but you can see my daughter’s hands reaching for me and my son’s arms embracing me. My eyebrow is raised in a “will you just look at what’s happening right now?” manner that is betrayed by the smile on my face. The messes are clearly visible all around us. This picture, more than any other we have, captures the reality of our crazy, messy, beautiful life. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
About the Author
Kayci is a working mom of two hilarious kids living in Southern California. Her hobbies include reading in two-minute increments and sneaking cookies when her kids aren’t looking. Twitter: @VillarrealKayci