"Mommy, why are you eating breakfast on the stairs?"
I've been discovered by my curious five-year-old.
I force a smile and reply, "I was just looking for a quiet place to rest."
It's the final week before school starts, and it's as if my children can sense a big change is coming.
My husband is working most days and nights, I'm fighting a cold, and all three of my children seem a bit off. I feel exhausted and bone-weary and it's only the morning.
My home looks more like a chaotic frat house and not the haven and comforting place of rest that I crave.
Inside of my spirit, I long for just a few hours of quiet and rest. I feel completely undone and worn out, and I'm embarrassed by how little patience I have.
We get through the day by the skin of our teeth. I continue hiding when it gets to feel like I can't get through the day, only to be found moments later.
I wonder how other mothers do it. It feels like everyone else has their stuff together.
I post a funny little note on Facebook about how much I'm looking forward to school starting. A woman I don't know replies that mothers today are so overwhelmed and that we need to get our act together.
It's enough to make me want to curl up and cry. I feel defeated. “What am I doing wrong?” I wonder to myself.
The week simultaneously speeds by and trickles by like a slow dripping tap. Finally, it's the last day of the week before Labour Day weekend.
It's my final day with all three of my daughters before school starts.
I wake up in a fog. I want to just sleep all day. I feel like I can barely see straight I'm so wiped out emotionally and physically. But then I get an idea.
"FIELD TRIP DAY!" I shout downstairs to my daughters.
I pack a bag, get myself and my girls dressed, and we head out the door into the cool summer day.
"This is going to be a wonderful day!" I announce cheerily.
We enjoy our walk to downtown Guelph, stopping whenever we feel like it, chatting happily.
We play at the downtown library, meeting a friend and her son. I share a special moment with my dear high school friend, where we both admit that motherhood is not as glamorous as we had always imagined.
And that's okay.
Then we head to Market Fresh for lunch. I look into the eyes of my daughters and realize how purely blessed I am. There's hard days, but there's also perfect moments even in those hard days.
"I love you girls so much. You are so precious to me," I say to my daughters.
They both reach across the table and kiss me on the cheek. It feels like a movie moment.
But it's not, this is real life and it's raw and it's hard and it takes grit and perseverance. But the beauty is so much more profound than I could have ever anticipated.
At the end of the week I feel as though I have spent every ounce of energy. I have given everything of myself to my daughters this summer.
But then again, maybe that's the point.