I have a hypothetical situation for you.
Let's say you have had a particularly stressful week. Details aren't important. Just stress.
Now you love your children. You really do. But at the end of this particular week, you really don't like them as much as usual. They are just starting to get on your last nerve, carefully preserved nerve.
Now remember, this situation is completely hypothetical.
Friday night comes. At points during the week you thought that your head might explode, so you decide that Friday night you should definitely take a long, hot, bubbly, soothing bath. Stress relief is much needed.
Daddy is late getting home, so you wrestle through dinner/bedtime scenario alone until he arrives to help with the last bit. You pin up the sleeper on one toddler so that a bodily-fluid situation will not occur (again today). You convince the baby that he does not indeed need to sleep attached to you all.night.long. You read a gloriously wonderful Easter story (complete with illustrative eggs), pat them on the head, and tuck them into their respective, clean beds. You silently celebrate that you made it through this week in one piece. Well, two pieces that will be easily melded back together with that hot bath.
But of course, continuing with the week's theme, the tots take a couple extra hours to actually fall asleep once in their rooms. You hear strains of "DADDY'S TRUCK NOW!" and "T! T! T!" and perhaps "HELP!!!! need chocolate!" and a few thumps and banging which can only be a certain toddler dismantling his bed (because of course).
You ignore all this. You ignore the mess in the kitchen (seriously..no matter how many dishes you wash...no matter how many meals you fix...THE DISHES ARE ALWAYS DIRTY AND MEALS KEEP NEEDING TO BE FIXED. This cycle is maddening) You ignore the half-folded laundry, and the random bits of the house scattered into other part of the house (the handiwork of post-dinner pre-bed toddlers)
You take out a large rubber ducky, the plastic balls, the little tupperwares, the spatula (HEY! I've been looking for that!), and the miniature fishing rod. You claim back the large jetted tub taken hostage by tiny people with no bladder control. (Remembering this, you add extra cleaning solution and scrub down the tub until its gleaming white surface is assuredly clean.)
You are so close now. You can almost taste it. Although you probably shouldn't taste it unless you are particularly fond of the taste of soap.
You check on the toddlers. One is now mostly naked, but the diaper is still on so you do nothing. The other has taken a large box of diapers and is using it as a step stool to attempt escape from the horrible prison of a clean room full of toys and a soft bed. Upon seeing you, they both demand ice cream and cry more than a little bit when you are super mean and say in your sternest voice "NO AND IF YOU DON'T GO TO SLEEP YOU ARE NEVER EATING ICE CREAM AGAIN."
Your head starts pounding and you feel that explosion that has been building all week swell to the surface. Must.have.alone.time.now.
This is where you call in your tag team. Daddy- you're up.
Filling the tub full of hot water, swirling in your favorite salts and suds, lighting your favorite candle scents all around the tub, dimming the lights just enough to hide the small hand print smudges on the mirror, checking on the sleeping baby and whispering that he is your favorite because he is asleep right now- the mommy de-stresser is finally ready.
Shutting the bathroom door firmly, you block out toddler row just as you hear one of them yelling for a SKID STEER HAY BALE while banging around a long piece of a toddler bed that has now been turned into a sword. Daddy's got this.
Sinking deep into the hot water, you feel your skin all start to burn off but you don't even care. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Tense muscles relax. The neck that was about to snap turns to jello and floats in the fragrant brew. Your toes wiggle in the water. Your wrists get massaged by the jets. Your head slowly and calmly returns to normal size. Your hearts stops pounding. Your stress level goes from 100 to 2 with two deep breaths. The bubbles form a layer of serenity all around you. Your eyes close and your shoulders wiggle even lower into steamy no-stress land. Heaven. Pure lavender heaven.
You stare at the dancing flame on the candle in front of you and still your mind. This week wasn't so bad. it was just a week. Just a week and now it was over. They won't be toddlers forever. Someday they'll be teenagers...and you can embarrass them with oh-so many of these stories...from this week alone.
Within minutes you remember- gosh you love your children. SO much. They can be down right sweet and wonderful when they want to be.
Just as you convince yourself you can do this another day- another week. The bathroom door peeks open. It's Daddy. With an interloper yelling "POTTY POTTY POTTY POTTY!"
Noooooooooooooooooooo. The spell of the bath is broken. Suddenly there is a tiny person getting close to the candles and yelling everything as LOUDLY AS POSSIBLE.
The water immediately feels twenty degrees cooler. The dim lighting seems suffocating. The bubbles are dissipating. Quickly.
Your irritation- which barely had left- returns. Bigger. Stronger. As a more permanent resident. Daddy fell for the "I'm going to pretend like I have to go potty just to get out of my room during bedtime" trick?
Just as you're about to jump out of the tub and strangle a certain "tag teamer's" neck for allowing foreigners into mommy's break time, you hear a slight "tinkle tinkle" and a little girl proudly saying "MOMMY! POTTY!" Daddy beams at her side, and something strange happens to your irritation.
It dissipates right along with those bubbles as a new emotion takes its place.
She went potty. After saying that she needed to go potty. She held it until she got in the right place. She freaking owned that potty break.
Something that is so hard for her to get- she is getting. Slowly but surely.
You settle back into your bath. The magic is ruined, yes. But a new kind of magic happened instead. A remembrance that they are learning. They are growing. They are trying just as hard as you are.
Also- a sarcastic thought "Of course...Mommy is relaxing in the bath TIME TO FINALLY USE THE POTTY! Can't miss the bathroom party!"
But who can blame her? That Macintosh Apple Yankee candle scent was doing amazing things to the stuffy bathroom.
Friday night de-stressing. It didn't go as you planned. But it's OK. You realize- you've got this.
Another day. Another week.
Even when it's stressful.
Because when these are your hypothetical children...how can you not?