There’s something about summertime that heightens my expectations of what motherhood will look like. I picture myself making every day a new adventure. I picture myself always having a nutritious picnic packed for said adventure. I picture myself never forgetting the sunscreen. And then I picture myself leading my children through some sort of grassy meadow while bursting into spontaneous song, just like Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music.
One of the bigger problems with this picture, as a sweet friend once pointed out to me, is this: the reason Maria von Trapp had so much time on her hands to burst into song was because she had a house full of servants who handled the drudgery of everyday life. You know – things like laundry, cooking, scrubbing toilets, spending an hour on hold while calling the insurance company about your recent water damage claim – all those “not-so-musical” tasks of motherhood.
The fact is, when you factor in all those menial tasks, it leaves a lot less time for a musical frolic through the meadow. Even more so if you’re balancing work commitments, too. (I’m currently freelancing, which has been fantastic, but I’m just saying, it cuts into the frolicking time.)
I’ve spent much of my summer engaged in inner conflict, constantly asking myself the question, “Am I making this memorable enough?” On days when we spend hours in the pool or drop everything and head off to the beach or the zoo or the farm, it’s a yes. On days when I catch up on laundry and drag the kids on seven errands (my kids eat BJ’s pizza for lunch while riding in the shopping cart way more often than I’d like to admit), it’s a no. And on those days, I feel like I’m failing. Because, seriously – what would Maria von Trapp do?! Probably not call around getting quotes for air conditioning maintenance, that’s what. And if she did, she’d at least be singing.
On a recent “failure day”, the kids and I were heading out the door to get the oil changed in my car when this came to mind:
One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much… (Luke 16:10 ESV)
This Bible verse talks about being faithful with money – and while I realize my role as a mother isn’t really something you can measure in a monetary sense, I know for certain my kids are valuable to God. He has entrusted me with two of His treasures, and the Bible says little things matter a lot. If we’re faithful with the little things, we will be faithful with the big things.
So, instead of chalking this particular day up as a failure day, I decided to obey God and be faithful in sitting in the waiting room of the auto service department with my two small kids. I entered the tiny room (with its familiar smell of motor oil and stale coffee) armed with a board game, a jewelry making kit, and several small toys. And you know what? We had fun. When it was time to leave my kids were groaning and begging me to stay for just a few more minutes.
There was no song. No frolic in the meadow. But it turns out that’s not what makes a memory “good” for my kids. I am learning that it’s not so much about the Big Exciting Moments. It’s about those moments in the middle; those seemingly mundane moments which string together one after another – those are the moments which will leave the most lasting impression on these kids whom I love so much. Perhaps those are the moments which matter most of all, even.
Please don’t hear me saying, “Look at what a great mom I am! Look how fun I made this experience!” That’s not what I’m saying at all. What I am saying is I regularly miss opportunities like this simply because I often believe the lie that these mundane moments don’t matter. The truth is, they matter a lot. They matter to my kids, and most importantly, they matter to God.
So I’ve been working on giving up my expectations of what important moments look like. I’ve been working on being more present in the middle moments: making a game out of watering the plants, getting audiobooks from the library to listen to as we shuttle around to various errands, being more patient as the kids interrupt me for the twelfth time when I’m just trying to unload the dishwasher! Actually, still working on that one.
We keep a couple of games in the car now. I snapped this sweet picture of my big man and my little man playing while we waited for our dinner on vacation a couple weeks ago. (My big man had to escort my little man out of the restaurant shortly after this was taken – because, it’s still real life. And that’s okay.)
On this Monday morning, I can see the week stretched out ahead of me and I want to remind myself to make the most of the moments in the middle. I want to remind myself to be faithful with little. Maybe I won’t burst into song at the dry cleaners. But then again, maybe I will.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:17