Parenting is deep breaths.  One right after the other.  From the time they wake up, until the time they go to sleep.  (Actually when they go to sleep it’s more like a sigh of relief, but a deep one nonetheless.)

“Mommy!  I can’t find my school shoes!”  Deep breath.

“But I don’t like eggs anymore!”  Deep breath.

“I didn’t mean to spill my milk!”  Deep breath.

“But I don’t want to sit in the back of the van!”  Deep breath.

“Turn the station please!”  Deep breath.

“Stop touching me!!”  Deep breath.

“I’m hungry.”  Deep breath.

“She hit me!”  Deep breath.

“I don’t know how to do this!”  Deep breath.

“But I have to use glitter for my homework.”  Deep breath.

“Mommy!  I cut the neighbors’ flowers for you!”  Deep breath.

“I didn’t know I had mud on my shoes!!”  Deep breath.

“Mommy, will you practice my hair style for tomorrow?”  Deep breath.

“Mommy, remember when you said I could paint your nails?”  Deep breath.

“Hey!  Let’s play a board game!”  Deep breath.

“Go to bed?  But we haven’t even had a chance to cuddle!”  Deep breath.

“Will you read us a story?”  Deep breath.

“Mommy, will you bring me water?”  Deep breath.

“Mommy!  I can’t remember your tuck-tuck!!  Just one more kiss?”  Deep breath.

“I can’t sleep, Mommy.”  Deep breath.

I could go on and on.  But it’s not necessary.  If you’re a parent, you don’t need to be convinced because you already know.  And if you’re not?  More than likely you’ve left a houseful of kids thinking, “Thank God I don’t have any of those!”

But here’s the thing.  All those deep breaths?  They add up over time.  They get built up in reserve, and that’s a good thing.  Because when you least expect it your child takes her first step, offers you an unsolicited hug, bursts in joyful song, dances as free as a bird, creates with infinite possibility, offers to help clean up the kitchen, hurries to the car ahead of you so he can get your door, opts to carry her big brother’s monogrammed backpack with pride even though the other kids think it’s weird, makes it a point to kiss you in front of his friends, etc.

And those moments?  Well…they take your breath away.  Just like that.  BOOM.  It’s gone.  Every last bit of it.  So the only thing you feel in your chest is your heart.  Your great big happy heart which feels as though it may just explode with love.

Then, when your breath returns – thanks to the reserve – you exhale pure gratitude.  Thankful that your children are happy, independent and full of so much loving spirit.  Lucky to have been blessed by the amazing little people they’re turning out to be.  Gracious for every  deep breath of patience you’ve ever taken, because right then you know one thing and one thing only:

They are so worth it.