I used to think life was about the big things; getting my license, graduating from high school, starting college, completing each year and semester with excelling grades to show for it. Applying to graduate school, meeting the man who would eventually become my husband (and father of my children! who knew?!!), getting my first "real" job at a publishing company, getting married, teaching, buying houses, having babies...
Whew. A lot happened in that season between 16 and 29 (when we had our first beautiful little girl)...
And perhaps that is why, in the last five years since becoming a mother and watching life all at once slow to a sudden halt in some areas and reach an accelerating pace in others (ahem...housework, laundry, meal planning, birthday parties, holiday excitement, etc. etc.), I have found myself enormously grateful for the vibrancy of life, but sometimes also not appreciating the details of this day to day living as much as I should...I confess to sometimes missing the days of tangible goals, and big people chatter at work and a structure that seemed "normal". I confess to often letting my feelings of being overwhelmed by the day to day, often tedious details, cast a shadow over the joy that is also very much present in raising small children if you stop to watch and take the moments in.
In that season before kids it was primarily the "big" things that were moving me forward, filling my days, helping to frame my perspective of life at the time.
Those things were tangible and concrete and obvious when it came to working towards something or setting goals.
As a mother of small children my day to day is VASTLY different...like "I think I live on an entirely new planet" different. It is a world where there is sometimes little structure, unexpected illnesses and road bumps come at a whim, and the goals I may set to clean a room in the house are often only accomplished while another room is being completely disorganized by the little people.
This season of life is composed of hundreds, thousands, probably millions (if we added them up over the years) small moments and tasks...There is no report card, or certificate of completion. There is no work review to tell you how you are doing. You simply connect one moment, one day, one week and month and year to the next, and before you know it you have kids that are starting kindergarten, or middle school, or (gasp!) off to college and you hope you've done your job well.
As I've been thinking about all of this I've realized that I need to be more present in these moments...The crazy, hazy moments while my girls are young and life is physically messy (as opposed to emotionally messy, which I've heard is coming down the road!).
Some days I'm really good at it. Some days I get crabby and let the moments pass me by. I'm trying to let the former overshadow the latter...To realize, as Ann Voskamp articulated so beautifully in her book One Thousand Gifts, that there are dozens upon dozens of things to be grateful for each and every day if we slow down and look around expectantly... not in a posture of waiting for the next "big" thing, but in realizing that life happens in the small things all around us.
It was in this frame of mind that I found myself joyously thankful for my girls yesterday. They are in this phase where they LOVE to wrap presents for each other. Sometimes they just go around the house and collect random objects to wrap-- one piece of gum, an old used hair clip, a tattered book. They wrap their treasures and present them to each other as if it were Christmas morning!
Yesterday Ella and I went to the Dollar Store together...We found some puzzles and workbooks and all sorts of other little things to keep her occupied (she's bored with her sister gone at school all day!). She kept saying "Ava would LOVE this!" So finally I told her we could pick out a couple of things to give to Ava.
I helped her wrap them up with cheap Dollar Store wrapping paper and the red, white and blue 4th of July ribbon she picked out. We set them on a bench for her sister, along with a card and collage she had made for Ava.
One of Ava's love languages is certainly gifts and the excitement on her face after we greeted her at the bus and told her Ella had some presents for her was really sweet. She smiled and and her stride quickened. She was moving with eager anticipation towards those gifts!
Here are a few pictures of the little moment that had a big impact on Ava's day...
|Ella is excited to wrap her sister's gifts!|
|Ava opens her gifts...|
We are fortunate today to also have been blessed with a BIG gift in the last couple of months...My little niece Cordelia returned home to Buffalo this week. They ran a very sweet piece about my brother, his wife and their little girl on Channel 2 News here in Buffalo yesterday. Check it out!