My boys were caught in a heated game of tug-o-war with a brand new bag of mini cheesy rice cakes. Caught in a slow-motion movie sequence of running towards the struggle yelling “N-o-o-o-o-“, the bag burst open before my eyes in its own cheesy explosion….like tiny healthy fireworks coated in orange cheese. The carpet I had finished vacuuming not three minutes earlier was now dotted with faux cheese and broken rice cakes. I quickly re-vacuumed, and sent the boys outside.

I then caught glimpse of my 15 month old, who had been reading in the front room during the rice cake debacle. Dark brown dribble was oozing out of her mouth. As I went in for a closer look, I noticed the thick brown smears across her face and the clumpy brown mess tangled into her mousy-brown curls. I went in for a smell and was grateful to smell chocolate and not something unsavory. As she smiled, I saw speckles of gold and pink aluminum foil, and fished two old, wrapped, chocolate Easter egg candies out of her mouth. This resulted in brown goo dripping down her shirt, onto her pants, and then onto mine. I rushed upstairs and got her into the tub.

Three or four minutes into her bath, my five year old came running upstairs to tell me that my first grader was home from school and was locked out. I’d forgotten to undo the top door latch (which we secure during the day, thanks to our two year old prone to running.) I instructed my five year old to stand next to the tub and flew down the stairs to let my daughter in. Back up the stairs to finish the bath and throw some jammies on my little chocolate thief.

As I’m pulling the pj top over my daughter’s head, I can hear wailing coming up the stairs. It’s my first grader, dripping wet. She is soon followed by her two year old brother, also drenched down to his diaper. I strip my son down and throw him in the tub, and tell my daughter to change into dry clothes. I give the two year old a quick rinse to warm him up, and grab some clean dry clothes. As I go to grab a diaper, I notice that we are out of his size, and am forced to squeeze him into a diaper two sizes too small. I say a silent prayer for no blow-outs and send him downstairs.  I gather up the wet clothes, start a load of laundry, and head outside to discover my son has not only thrown buckets of water on his brother and sister, he has also taken his sister’s slippers for a swim, and dumped my new jar of yeast in the water table.

The wet bandit is brought in and placed in time-out. My daughter has fixed a snack for herself and her younger brother, and has gotten out the mini trampoline. The baby is happily bouncing up and down on her buns, giggling at herself. My two year old rushes towards the trampoline ready to claim his territory and eek out the tiny interloper. My older daughter stops him and tells him he can’t jump while his sister is on the trampoline. This upsets him. I turn from his fussing to tell my five year old that now that his time-out is over, he can go begin his chores.

As I turn my head to make sure my son is on his way upstairs to fold laundry, yogurt goes careening over my head in a graceful cherry arc, soaring through my family room until it splished and splooshed out of the container creating a Pollack-style smattering all over the room.

This was ONE HOUR of my day. Every day in the life of a mom is nuts. Serious cuckoo bananas. Life never stops moving and neither do our kids! The work a mom puts in in one day is grossly underestimated, and our work is never fully appreciated, recognized, or recompensed. It would be VERY easy at the end of one of “those” days, to let bitterness and resentment start to grow. It would be easy to let frustration overtake you. It would be easy to begin to snap at our kids, our friends, and our spouse. It would be easy to add up the sum of our life in loads of laundry completed and difficult homework problems solved. It would be easy to think, “Why am I doing this?” I was there, as I’ve been SO many times.

It was the “Hooray!” and little happy dance my two year old did after going in the big-boy potty before bed. It was my five year old telling me he was going to marry me (even though Daddy would get mad). It was my daughter making homemade bread sticks for the first time. It was my my baby girl splashing in the bath. It’s in the small hidden everyday moments that we find (or re-find) our joy. It’s the bedtime hugs, the giggles, and the sharing of brownie batter beaters. It’s family movie night, ridiculous knock-knock jokes, and dancing around the kitchen. Small things. Hidden things. The things that make “those” days worth it. Every day worth it. Keep going. Keep fighting. Keep working. Never stop watching for the little things that make it worth it.