Last night was one of those nights.   It started while Scott and I were trying to talk on the phone during his one hour+ commute to his evening PhD class after work.  A friend had just stopped by to play with the boys, so I thought the timing was good for our chat.  I was catching him up on the big developments of the day that needed our collective brain power, and a next step decision, when suddenly the noise from the boys increased dramatically.

I assumed they’d just come downstairs playing their games. 

So I put Scott on hold, closed my office door, and we continued our chat.   About 10 minutes later, I got a text from our neighbor saying her son came home upset because he’d broken one of the boys new sleds while sledding down the stairs at our house.  She was offering to replace it.  What?!  Sledding down the what?! In the what?!?

Hold the phone.

Sure enough, skid marks all the way across the brand new wood floors from the bottom step to under the dining room table. How in the world did I miss this?! Apparently I was in a pretty deep conversation.  I chatted with the boys about how they would pay for the floor repair.  We assessed the damage, and to their elation, the skid marks turned out to be the plastic off the bottom of the sled. It could be scratched off. It wasn’t actual horizontal grooves across the planks.  (Whew!) We worked on removing those for a while and then proceeded to wrap up our evening activities.

Then someone had an upset stomach. 

That someone hunkered down in the hall bathroom for the next 30 minutes.  I kept checking on him, but it was pretty silent in there.  When he finally emerged, I could see the water rising in the toilet.

I spent the subsequent half hour plunging. . . and plunging. . . and plunging. . .

Meanwhile, I’d asked the boys to head up and get ready for bed.  What do I hear from downstairs?  Fighting, of course.  Blood curdling screams.  I try to yell over them for control, with a firm grip on the plunger, and the growing blister to show for it.  Turns out, they were fighting over a piece of gum.

GUM! I tell you.

I lost it.  Completely and totally lost my cool.  Yelling and screaming about them getting to bed before they lose every privilege they’ve ever known.

It wasn’t my proudest parenting moment.

I finally got the toilet to flush and got myself upstairs, only to find hurt feelings and sad faces.  I’d hurt them and I knew it.  I apologized and did my best to make amends.  We ended our evening with cuddles and bedtime stories, before I felt my way back down the stairs in the dark.

That’s when I saw Sir Walter.  

My precious 13-year-old, first-born furry baby.  He’d stayed downstairs during bedtime routine, for the second night in a row. My heart sank.   “He’s not long with us”, I thought as I carried him to bed and told him goodnight.  I sat beside his bed a little bit longer with an ache in my heart, trying to hold on to that moment.

He struggled breathing all through the night. 

It seems his heart murmur is finally getting the best of him.  While I was up with him extra early this morning, trying to help him get more comfortable, I was thinking about what we do next.  I was laying beside him on the floor, telling him it was going to be okay.

The tears just fell.  

It brought to mind all the heartache in my circles of friends.  So many of you are hurting, either in public or in private.  In that moment, I could see your faces and feel a little tiny bit of your pain.  When I got up, I read a quick devotion.  It was no coincidence that it spoke of today as a unrepeatable gift.

But not in a “seize the moment” kind of way.  

It was a reminder to trust God with gratitude and resist the tendency to search for the easiest route through the day.

To me, it was a reminder that the unrepeatable gift, is that we get to do it together.  

The notorious mom-fail moments.  The precious moments of tender love.  The toilet-plunging moments.  The sacred moments of hurt and loss.  The laughter and joy-filled moments of life.  All the moments.

Our gift is sharing them with each other.  

As you go into your weekend, give the unrepeatable gift of your full presence to those you love.

It’s the best gift you’ve got.

to more love,



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