I’ve done this a thousand or more times, I’m sure. Dressed them up for snow play, undressed them for the potty, tugged mitts back up and under parka sleeves, tied scarves, tucked bangs under toques. It’s the repetition, putting on and taking off, the doing and undoing of caring for children that exhausts me.

I get darn tired of it, if I’m honest. I want competency and a quick exit.

With children, though, quick rarely happens. Instead I kneel, and maybe it’s a kind of prayer in its own way. To kneel on the puddle-y floor and tie another shoe or find another sock or kiss another little nose.

I have to slow myself to kneel, I’ve learned. Or rather, I’m still learning. I have to slow and bend, and I can do it sweet or I can do it swift, and the way I choose makes a difference.

They grow and learn and get faster, it’s true. But the kneeling, the practice of going slow and meeting needs and looking into eyes? That’s the kind of thing that changes me without me knowing it. I think (in the moment) that it’s about getting them out the door, but really it’s a lesson for me. To learn to do the thing that needs doing, or doing again, with love.

They teach me patience, if I’m willing to learn. They give me such gifts, if I’m willing to accept them.