Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Let them be little

As the light begins to fade through the windows of my kitchen, I am often able to catch a glimpse of the sun going down behind the mountains.  Most often, I stand and watch the world as it is swallowed into night with my hands immersed in soapy water.  The sponge, soap and somebody's caked on, left over food feel like the answer to that dreaded stay at home mom question, "what did you do all day?"

My little home, full of little people, is just a gaggle of ordinary, repetitious little moments.

The dishes.  The never ending stream of laundry.  Intervening with all the gentleness I can muster in another sibling crisis.  A giant, untended pile of train parts and pieces that somehow made their way into the middle of the floor from two rooms away.  Another run to the grocery store.  Diapers, poop, and somebody's mystery body fluid.

Nobody can ever really prepare you for what it's like.

Though my hands and my feet are busy non-stop, as the day comes to a close I am forced to confront the fact that I actually did very little.  Certainly little of significance.

In the midst of all those little people, sometimes I give in to the idea that I, too, am little.  Insignificant.  Pressed in on all sides by the unending voices crying out with needs that all too often speak to me of my own inability and failure.

It would be wonderful if I was creative enough, clever enough and had enough energy to make each night the BEST! NIGHT! EVER! as my children are fond of exclaiming, but realistically?  Yeah, we're probably going to eat grilled cheese for dinner.

The thing that is so tricky, the thing that the perfectionist in me wants to rail against is letting ordinary be enough.  Letting little be BIG.

Because, really?  At the end of the day, when I look back on my journey as the mother of these children, what is it that I'm actually going to remember?  What will really matter?

Will it be how clean I kept my house?  How well-dressed and well behaved my children were?  How significant and important I was?

Or can I let go, and accept that there is beauty in the messiness of life.

Because these things - these insignificant, ordinary, little moments - are the building blocks of the rest of their lives.  

I like things cleaned up, put away and tidy.

But creativity doesn't blossom sitting still in a room.  Imagination is limited only by the size of the canvas.

Life is short.  They are little only for a beat; a breath.  And then those dirty little hands are up and grown, and instead of feeling pressed in on all sides by how full my life is, I'll find myself pressed in by the lack of noise and motion and chaos and by how very much room there is for me.

I will again have a clean house.  I will not always decorate with finger paintings and small, sticky footprints.

Let them be little.  Little is BIG.  Messes are memories.  And we only get to do this ride once.  I am privileged to get to walk with them, to be a part of their journey and watch as it unfolds before my eyes.

Not everyone has that opportunity.

Comparison really is the thief of joy.  Those feelings of insignificance, of redundancy and isolation that can creep in, particularly in this age of social media where everybody's best is on display and everybody's normal is hidden, distract us and make us miss the most important thing of all: being present for all the little stuff.  The stuff that really isn't little at all.

So even though so often it feels as if little things like dishes are my only legacy, I have to remind myself:

little is always enough.  

1 comment:

  1. I spend so many nights reflecting on if I was "good enough" throughout the day... Did my kids have fun? Did they feel loved/supported? Did I respond in the "right" way, or am I making their sibling rivalry worse? Are my kids going to miss something and then be less smart/prepared/whatever than their peers because I messed up and dropped a ball I didn't know I was juggling? But at the same time, was I too soft? I don't want them to be little, entitled brats!
    It's a constant struggle. Being a mom is the absolute best, but it's also the hardest. Guilt and self-doubt can swallow you up. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has to remind herself to just relax and enjoy the little things.


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