Even though bedtime had come and gone I still had a child next to me, downstairs when they shouldn't be.
Then I heard the question - the one that choked my soul on the inside:
"Mommy, sometimes do you not want to be with me? Because sometimes I feel like you don't want me with you."
My heart plunged in my chest at the words--ones that I knew were true.
I stammered out a few sentences about introverts and extroverts--about challenges in our day and details I found hard.
Seemingly satisfied and not completely scarred for life, this child gave me a hug and scampered up the stairs to bed. But sleep did not come so easily to me that night.
Instead I did tearful battle with regret, guilt, condemnation. My heart's deepest desire as a mother has always been to do right by my little people.
And yet the quest for perfect mothering is an impossible one.
I won't get it all right - I won't have infinite patience - I will mess up, again and again. This realization brought me to my knees.
The next morning, when this child tiptoed into my bedroom, I put my writing aside and invited them to crawl up beside me. We snuggled and had a hard, healing conversation. I asked forgiveness; I explained (in kid language) my hopes and my struggles.
Later at the breakfast table, with all three kids together, I did the same. I brought up the topic, explained what had happened the night before.
I told them all how much they mean to me, but I also shared honestly that I don't enjoy every part of motherhood--that I find dealing with sibling bickering and arguing difficult and unpleasant.
That I need their prayers just as much as they need mine.
I'm so thankful that this child felt comfortable coming to me with such a deep, insightful observation--one I needed to hear.
We must be willing to have hard conversations together.
Because though words hurt, they also heal. In acknowledging our weakness, we somehow become strong. And find our way back to the One we need more than ever as a partner in our parenting.
"Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom."
~ Thomas Jefferson