I talk a lot here about how small a mother’s routine can feel. Perhaps, however, I don’t talk enough about how big the impact of that routine can be. Celebrating the small is directly related to recognizing the massive, Kingdom impact. Kids are forever. They are eternity with skin on. And we mold them like so much play-doh until one day they walk out the door and take every small moment of a family’s routine with them.
My mom died when I was 18. One week to the day after I turned 18 actually. I’ve been spending a lot of time remembering her lately. Trying to remember the details of our every days together. I braille my way back into a life that includes a mother and it’s the littlest things that stand out.
How she used to burn the food. How she used to cut out Valentine’s Day hearts and decorate with pink and red and balloons and eggs fried in heart shaped bread. How she used to dance in the driveway each morning a lunatic good-bye that made us laugh till our love tanks were filled all the way up to the top. How dad called her “Jo-babe” and how they would dance to Bad Moon Rising right there in the living room between the brown sofas with the insides that were splitting out.
I don’t remember laundry but I remember dishes. I have the bread board she burned with a pot that shouldn’t have been set down on a wooden surface. I remember movies and stories and books – oh my heart – the books. They are a lifeline that still connects us. Turn on Bruce Springsteen or the Graceland album and I can see her.
So many in between moments I didn’t notice – but the mosaic – looking back I can see the mosaic of a mother who was complicated and interesting and loved that form fitting pink dress and couldn’t cook anything worth particularly remembering but her meringues, I will always love her meringues. She was Jesus to me. When we warmed up our school socks over the heater and singed them, when she sang to us, when she lay down on the floor and laughed over her own short comings. When she was up till 2am drinking Coke and working on a project, downing chocolate and encouragement – she was a woman who brought faith into every nook and cranny of her every day. I believed like I breathed.
I guess what I’m saying is that celebrating the smallness of a mother’s day in and day out is more than just making it through – friends, it’s a wild dance of recognition, of celebration, of courage. It has to be more than finding meaning in the laundry. It has to be a wild Hallelujah that laundry is just the tipping point for all that you invest, that you pour, that you knead and knead and pull and knead into your kids. These are the front lines. These are the glory days. This is the stuff of heroes – not the laundry, but the conversations that take place in between the loads.
Piece by painful, sometimes mind-numbingly boring piece, you are building a mosaic of memory love. Something that your children will see the day they open the door and turn head back over shoulder for a last look. It will all be there, the beautiful wonder you’ve woven into them.
And when the world tries to claw at them, to break them, to smash the beauty in them, may our walls hold true. May the lessons we’ve told, the truths we’ve lived, the life we’ve spoken into them come back easily, predictably, with wash and repeat ease.
I live right outside of Washington, D.C. where people are defined by the question, “So, what do you do?” And “Mother” might be about the unsexiest answer ever uttered at a Capitol Hill mixer. But don’t let that fool you. “Mother” will always be the bravest, least ordinary, most difficult and utterly challenging career that anyone ever hopes to lay claim to.
While others might hear, “diaper-changer, food-maker, car-pooler, bottle-washer, laundry-doer, sweat pants-wearer, no-brain, mushy, washed up, life-on-hold” wanna be doing anything else woman, the Truth, whether it feels like it some days or not, is that you are in fact a shelter from the storm. You are a Cape of Good Hope. You are a warrior who will battle for your children’s hearts, souls, attention, innocence, education and memories.
Go to battle my friends. This is your time. We will hold strong on either side of you. We will pray over those bottles, through the dark watches of the night, when doubt comes and children break, when adults fail them, when they push and push as hard against us as that day we delivered them into the world we. will. not. be broken. We may ache and see cracks tear through our hearts, but we will get up again tomorrow and load the clothes and the words that need to be said. Again and again and again.
Kingdom business. Jesus work. This shaping of souls. This raising tiny humans.
I am so proud of what you do. I am awed by your commitment. You stun with your belief that this is ordinary. Don’t buy that for a second. Mighty.
You are mighty,
because you mother.