By Kelly Hines

I have a confession to make: Most days, I cry.

Sometimes I cry because I’m unbelievably proud of my kids. My little boy is starting to read, and the pride fills up my chest and leaks out my eyes. I see them growing and maturing and becoming independent and it makes me feel like I’m doing something right, here.

Sometimes I cry because they are growing up. I have a high school freshman, and I see her imminent departure and I can’t believe it’s even possible. We have so much more to do.

Sometimes I cry because, My God, I just love them so much I can not contain myself. I watch them play and laugh and be these funny and interesting little people and I just LOVE THEM SO HARD.

Sometimes I cry because a commercial comes on about puppies. I can’t help it.

And sometimes, I cry because I am overwhelmed by the tiny failures of my day. Because sometimes I wonder how my teenager is ever going to live on her own when she can’t take personal responsibility for, well – anything. I wonder if my hypochondriac middle child will ever be able to eat a meal without thinking she’s going to die. She announced she’s giving up gluten for Lent – what perfectly healthy nine year old does that? I wonder if my little guy will ever be able to sit still long enough to learn how to tie his shoes, and realize how behind his sisters he is in nearly everything. Except being a walking tornado, which he is an expert at.

I cry because nothing is ever done. I live a circular life, doing the same thing over and over. Pick up shoes, wash dishes, pack lunches, braid hair, until my daily activities become a repetitive mental mantra of things to do. My brain is the family rolodex of appointments and schedules and the location of the blue socks (“No! Not those blue socks! My FAVORITE blue socks!”). I spend an inordinate amount of thinking energy on transportation. How will I get Child A to Point B, while getting Child B to Point A, while trying to keep Child C from falling asleep on the way to Point D? And can we eat in the car on the way?

I cry because I don’t do enough. Somehow in all the minutia, I’ve forgotten to read enough books or play enough Barbies or take enough walks. I’ve missed opportunities for things to just happen in favor of schedules and skewed priorities.

I cry because sometimes I think it’s too late.

I am thankful for a big closet. One that I can hide myself away in when the frustration and the fear become more than I can handle. It is a brief, intense few moments when all my doubts and worries and anger can come bursting out all over my face. Then I can press the heel of my hand to my eyes and wipe my nose and get over myself.

I cry because they love me. Because despite everything that I am certain I’m doing wrong, they think I’m the best mom in the world. When they have a nightmare or want their favorite meal or need to talk, they come to me. They won’t let me out of the house without a kiss goodbye, and everyone wants to sit next to me at church. Every one of them wants to take care of me.

It’s family movie night and we’re all cuddled up on the couch. It is one of those rare moments when everyone is content. The movie hero has just saved the town or the day or something. My little guy has fallen asleep with his head on my lap, and the nine year old’s eyes are at half-mast. My husband is snoring softly in the recliner.

“Oh, Mommy,” my teenager says, “Are you crying?”