It was a Tuesday afternoon right before Halloween. I’d been home that day, juggling a baby who had a stomach virus and attempting to write a paper for one of my classes. The living room was filled with nursing textbooks, toys, and empty coffee cups. My three-year-old came bouncing through the door.

“Mama, what’s for dinner?” she asked.

I had found a minute to throw a lasagna in the oven at some point during the afternoon. My husband followed her, carrying two large pumpkins. I still hadn’t found the time to carve any for my favorite holiday. I sat down on the kitchen floor next to the baby’s bouncy seat.

“Mama, are you tired? If you are, you can just lay on the couch for a while. It’s alright,” she said.

I smiled at her. The idea of rest sounded perfect. A nap would have been wonderful if the semester wasn’t ending in five weeks, and if I hadn’t needed to prepare a lecture to teach at work the following day. Maybe I could have rested if the baby felt better, or if the house wasn’t so messy. My little girl was unaware of any of this, and had given me the best advice a three-year-old knew how to give to someone she loved. But there wasn’t time for extra sleep that day, or any day lately. Finishing the last year of graduate school, working part-time, and raising my two kids has created a chaotic life. It feels like time is moving at full speed, and it is hard to concentrate on a single task before something else that needs to be done becomes the next priority.

Even still, trying to balance all of these responsibilities is the happiest chaos I have ever known. I enjoy my job and the learning process of becoming a better nurse educator. Also, I am raising two tiny people who are a driving force for me to continue my career. I hope that I am teaching them that passions are worth pursuing, even if it means that the dishes stay in the sink for an extra day because life is busy.

Instead of taking a nap that night, I ate dinner with my little family and read a bedtime story to my preschooler. It wasn’t a flawless evening. The baby was cranky, the lasagna came out of the oven undercooked, and I never finished more than a page of my paper. But it was just the kind of night that I needed – an ordinary one filled with my favorite people.

And you know what? Those uncarved pumpkins are still sitting on my kitchen floor.

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