The morning after Valentine's Day found all four children in bed with me for a cuddle, until Beth remembered her box of chocolates. She sauntered into the kitchen, brought her box to the bed and asked for a chocolate.
Beth loves chocolate. I recall at least six times this year her waking in the night, obviously dreaming, whimpering, "I want some chocolate chips!"
It's not unusual for her to begin the day asking for chocolate, even though my standard response is, "Mommy doesn't serve chocolate for breakfast."
Still, she keeps asking, because a couple times per year, like the day after Valentine's Day, I actually say yes.
"But only one piece before breakfast."
So there we are on the bed, all four children now with their heart boxes of chocolate.
And what are they doing? Negotiating. Serious, amusing negotiations ensue...and me?
I'm lying there trying not to laugh.
Turns out their boxes have a number of yucky kinds, like the ones with the cherry or orange goo in the middle. Then there are the dark chocolates, which they also dislike.
But Peter, he happens to love the goo in the middle, so even 24 hours after I gifted them with the boxes, Peter has a full box. And I suspect the child has consumed more than his share of chocolate.
When we pray after dinner, using the ACTS acronym, Peter's nightly confession part has something to do with stealing snacks from the kitchen. "Dear God, I'm sorry for stealing that chocolate."
And every night my husband and I have to put our chins deeper into our chests, for fear the children will see our smirks.
The nature of the negotiations means that the children's chocolates are flattened, with the insides sticking out so they can see what they're trading. Mary only likes the caramel ones, so her box is mostly empty. She's given most of it away and probably eaten the few caramels she's gotten in trade.
And Beth? She's a Hershey's girl, or a semi-sweet baking-chip girl, and this box of surprise chocolates was not what she expected. After the first bite into something with fruit-flavored goo, she was not amused. Her box is empty and she's eaten very little. Most of her chocolate, no doubt, resides in Peter's box.
As they negotiated and dropped tiny bits of chocolate on the sheets--I guess this is a sheet-laundering day--I thought about their various love languages. Peter went to the kitchen and asked me to stay put, please, because he would be right back and wanted to talk with me.
Peter's love language, see, is quality time...and he's very verbal.
Peter came back to the bed and I said to the children, "Peter loves me most when I sit and talk with him. Paul loves me most when I bring home some bacon." That one brought a giggle, but it's true. His primary love language is gifts and bacon isn't a normal purchase for us.
"Now, Mary, when do you love me best?" Mary didn't quite know what to answer, but finally she said, "When you tickle me."
Beth was next. "Beth, when do you love Mommy best?"
Beth still nurses twice a day so we're still very close. She sleeps nestled against me half the night, preferring our cheeks to meet in the night, her arms snug around my neck.
In response to my question, she jumped into my arms, knocking me backward, answering, "I love you all the muches and all day long!"
Mommy was in maternal heaven then, I don't have to tell you.
After releasing me, she added, "Except when you're mean, like when you put me in time out."
Mothering is like a box of chocolates, isn't it? Some things, like getting them to clean up their messes and brush their teeth, are the equivalent of icky-sweet cherry-goo chocolates. Yuck!
But so many things, like Beth's sweet hug and having a talk with your 11 year old, are carameled-inside, or bona fide, decadent chocolate through and through.
Savor those decadent mothering moments, dear friends. For the time will come all too soon when the box is empty and our children have moved on.
And we'll ache for them to be young again. We'll ache for their messes and the teeth-brushing battles, and the tracked-in mud on the carpet.
Really, we will.