Her voice was a whisper, “What are you doing?” I whispered back, “Not much, what are you doing?” In a guilty voice, she explained she was calling from the garage because she was hiding from her five-year-old twin boys, who had just removed the bedroom door from its hinges while having a ‘quiet time.’ They hadn’t busted the door, they had actually removed the screws using parts of their Junior Explorer Tool Set.

“I think my kids might be wild Indians, and I decided to eat Oreos in the garage. It’s me that needs the quiet time.” Her voice sounded guilty, so I reassured her that I had had similar thoughts.

I remembered standing in the middle of the kitchen watching a tantrum from my daughter that had reached biblical proportions and wondering what it would be like to move to Australia. Why Australia? Because it was the farthest away place I could think of.

Parenting is like this sometimes. It’s a conundrum of the happiest moments of your life mixed with ones that make you want to run from the room screaming.

How many times do I have to repeat myself? Who the heck is listening to me anyway? I can’t even get the dog to mind, what the heck am I doing?

If you’ve ever had thoughts like this, you’re not alone.

I think back to a moment I had one night tucking my son into bed. In a tangle of blankets, he was engulfed in a serious conversation with GI Joe and Stretch Armstrong. But what caught my attention was a wrinkled piece of paper sticking out from beneath his pillow.

I had played with the idea of writing little notes on the paper napkin that I tucked into his school lunch box, sometimes an “I love you” or a joke I thought was funny. I hadn’t kept it up for long because I wondered if they embarrassed him or if he had maybe not even noticed because he had never mentioned them.

When I now pointed to the note that read, “I’ll love you forever,” he said, “Oh yeah, I kept that one because it was my favorite.” And then he smiled.

I think back to that moment often. There were so many times as a mom I felt like a complete failure, like what I did didn’t matter, like no one noticed. For me, that crumpled napkin was a sign of hope.

Maybe I was making a difference even when it didn’t feel like it. It reminded me that what I do today matters, and that tomorrow will not always look like today. It reminds me still that running off to Australia might feel like a good idea at the time, but if I hold tight to God’s hand and stick with it, there’s hope.

And I highly recommend an occasional bag of Oreos.

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