I suddenly become aware that it is morning. Rolling over onto my back and squinting, I make a mental note to adjust the curtains before bedtime in order to block the crack through which sunlight is leaking in. I immediately recognize the hushed voices of my husband and children, feet shuffling down the hallway and the rattling of my bedroom doorknob. Four young faces appear, eyes aglow with excitement. Mother’s Day breakfast in bed, delivered by my own children, is something I waited a long time to enjoy.

Motherhood is messy. I have four children under eight in my home. Life is nothing like I imagined in those days when I pined for a family larger than two. Now there are six of us. We fill our minivan nearly to the brim. Minivan–what?! I feel so spoiled in my “Swagger Wagon!” Oh, but I am tired.

My four little loves pile onto my bed. They are greeting me with such sweet words, and also with pointy elbows and knees, using me as a foothold to climb higher up and to get comfortable, pushing and nudging one another as they gather around and on top of me. They remind me of puppies. This is the life of a mother. I think of the words I have heard my friend Julie, a fellow foster/adoptive mom, use. “If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart.”  One of my favorite feelings in the world is that of a small child wrapping his or her arms around my neck and resting a head on my shoulder. It’s as if they are telling you they give you their trust. They honor me with every snuggle, even if they are pulling my hair and I can feel a knee in my bladder.

It is then that my husband gathers them up and herds them out the door to have their own breakfast, to leave me in peace, he says. There is some mom guilt in needing some peace, especially after years of aching, but I also want to be my best for them. These days, that means I need bits of time alone to be a better mother and I am coming to be accepting of that about myself. I want to give them more of me when I am with them. Recharging has become vital.

When my oldest was born, I hardly ever wanted to put him down in the first few months. I wore him in a sling while I did laundry, cooked, cleaned, blogged. Expectations rapidly changed with our second child. Not only was my attention divided, but she did not like being worn in a wrap or sling. She also didn’t tolerate a baby swing. And if I put her anywhere flat, she would cry and spit up. Each child has been so unique in preferences. We do the best we can with each to shower them with love. I hope they feel it.

My heart swells and tears come close to the surface when I pause to consider both friends and strangers who still long for motherhood. It may be messy, but oh can it ever feel worth the wait! I close my eyes and whisper a prayer that they will feel some kind of peace today. I think of one particularly rough Mother’s Day before children came when I ate an entire box of Little Debbie’s brownies.

There is way too much food on my breakfast plate. I don’t think I can finish it. I know my kids would love my extra bacon. I crawl out of my bed and carefully carry the dish to the kitchen. I hear my tiny foster son call me as soon as he notices I have entered the room. “Momma!”  It’s one of very few words in his vocabulary. He hurries over as fast as his tiny toddler feet can carry him, reaching up for me. I lift him and he wraps his arms around my neck, then tucks his hands back down between his chest and mine and settles his head into me. People tell me they don’t know how I can do it, mother him without holding back when there is uncertainty in his future. I don’t see how I can not.