My little boys love early mornings. They love running into our room and waking us up. They love seeing our faces. They love hearing our voices. They love making us laugh. They love jumping on us while we groan about the sunlight and only half seriously ask them to go back to sleep. They especially love early weekend mornings but not because they don’t love school but because they especially love us. On Saturday mornings Matty will scream from the living room, a snack in one hand and a dinosaur in the other, while watching cartoons in his underwear, “MOM! NO SCHOOL TODAY?!!!” After I confirm, Bot will usually follow suit, “MAAAAAHHM? NO ‘CHOOL T’DAY?!”

It’s one of my very favorite things.

But they don’t just love early mornings, they love late mornings, lunch time, early afternoons, late afternoons, early evenings and late evenings. The only time of day they’re not particularly fond of is the exact moment Seth and I are standing in their doorway, preparing to shut off their light, saying our final I love yous for the day and and blowing our final kisses.

On Mother’s Day I got to sleep in until 9:30. And while I sat on the couch in sweats, smelling like sleep, waiting for the boys to come home from the neighborhood bakery, I tried to think about the last time I had slept in that late. It’s been hard to sleep in since having kids, of course there are the kids but there’s also that never-ending to-do list and the ongoing list of obligations. As I sat and peacefully caught the end of Under the Tuscan Sun, I thought about my teenage years. All those “early” weekend mornings when my parents would wake me up to, as they’d say, ‘get things done around the house’ and I’d grouchily ask why they couldn’t just sleep in like the rest of the world, flashed in my mind.

Three years of motherhood and I’m beginning to get it.

Later on, when my kids are teenagers and they begrudgingly ask why I can’t sleep in like the rest of the world, I hope I think fondly back to these years. Mornings of tiny hands petting my face, sometimes before the sun has even lit up the sky. The mornings I’d wake up to two rowdy boys throwing their bony bodies around carelessly next to my head while I sleep. Early mornings waiting in bed, pretending to sleep because the hurried pitter-patter of small feet on a cold hard wood floor rushing in for snuggles just after the crack of dawn is magic. The way-too-early mornings where I’d wake up and shuffle across the hall to an empty full-size bed adorned with dinosaur pillows and blankets because the tickle of a stuffed sting ray resting next to me on my pillow and the soft snores of a growing boy had denied me an entire night’s worth of sleep. The early, early mornings I’d wake up to the swift kick of a growing foot to the rib cage – for the fifth time – and the weight of a bare leg capped with a skinned-knee strewn across my torso after a night full of thunderstorms. Crabby and exhausted mornings waking up in an uncomfortable full-sized bed with two small boys snuggled in close after a night full of loud screams and long cries, thanks to night terrors of stolen cookies and missing ice cream.

I hope later on when they struggle to figure out who they are and I’m not the first face they want to see when they wake up, I think of these years. These years when they say I’m their best friend and I know they’re not lying. When they stop in the middle of what they’re doing to run over really quickly and give me a kiss and say, “I lub you, Mom” because it just popped into their head, and they can’t not tell me. When they thank me randomly for giving them a cracker or taking them to the zoo or letting them watch Peter Rabbit or giving them a glass of chocolate milk because they’re not sure they did and they just want me to know they’re grateful. These years when they ask me to play with them again and again and again, over and over because there’s no one else they’d rather play with.

Every stage of this journey might not be as magical as this one (though I doubt it) but I hope every great Mom, ‘mom’, mom-to-be, second mom and third mom got a moment over the week to look for the magic that is motherhood, whatever stage you’re in. Because even in all of its exhaustion, challenge, mess and inconvenience, it is nothing short of miracle and you are nothing short of a marvel.

Here’s to another year of making the world go round.

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