Full disclosure: I adore my kids, but they drive me crazy. They're going through a phase right now where they can't be in the same room together for more than 30 seconds without fighting about something, and they are both strong-willed, stubborn personalities. My younger one actually told me the other day that she wishes she could "move out and find another family so she wouldn't have to have a sister."
But here's the thing: for every moment I want to tear my hair out, there's another moment that makes up for it.
Last night, I did a "non-parenting" sort of thing. Even though we all had to get up the next morning for our whirlwind routine of camp and work, drop-offs and pick-ups, I let my older child (who's 8 now) stay up late and come outside with me, into the backyard.
We lit citronella candles and lay down side by side on a pool inflatable (pretty comfy, actually). Sometimes we talked about nothing in particular - just the random minutiae of our days. Other times, we listened to the noises of the night: cicadas singing, frogs sighing, wind rustling the leaves of the trees. We watched the stars come out slowly, one by one, and my daughter was so excited to find the North Star first.
We cuddled, and watched, and listened, and inhaled the sweet lemon scent of the candles along with the pure night air.
It was a small thing. A handful of minutes; nothing particularly momentous or memorable. But it was lovely. And, for that moment, it was enough.