01 Aug 2013

For the ordinary days

I’m sitting at the kitchen table and there are 14 years worth of scratches and markers and crayons lived into these planks. There’s an empty teacup and the smell of dirty baby diaper in the air. Boys will be back soon from the skate park with their dad and I haven’t washed the pan I cooked the omelet in yet.

This is my real life.

The deck umbrella is folded up on the floor next to me and a pair of orange sneakers lies quiet at my feet. The husband’s. I have a toothache and a headache and a heartache when I think about the countdown of summers and how this one means that our oldest boy will turn eight.

The days feel so terribly slow. So terribly the same.

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And then a kid is about to turn eight and I go downstairs to try and make sense of the laundry and remind myself that time is speeding up just when I’ve grown accustomed to it plodding along.

Motherhood feels a lot different than the baby books suggested.

There should have been an entire chapter on the boredom of board games. Or dishes. Or sweeping. Or unloading the dishwasher. Again. And then the next day.

Like sleep deprivation it’s hard to prepare for monotony.

So I sift through the moments with a make-believe microscope searching for the wonder hidden in plain sight.

Sometimes it comes soft and breathy, a baby girl whisper at 5am when I’m taking her potty and her curls are bent over so I’m not even sure I heard her say, “I wuv you, mama.”

Or the boy who leaps ferocious from his bunk bed and bends head over my hand to kiss it with passion and soft lips. The warm body I wake up to in the middle of the night, squeezing into his dad’s spot while his dad is away for work. One arm flung out backwards, chest rising and falling just like his father.

It’s all there. Once I blink the tired and temper out of my eyes, it’s all there. The glory of the ordinary day. How each one is unique even when it’s the same. Like these children of mine with their snowflake individual fingerprints or their laughter or how they like their spaghetti.

I sit at the table between the to-dos and let my mind count memories instead of lists. She just started sleeping through the night without a diaper, he helped his sister ride her first scooter, he pretended to be a waiter serving us all dinner. They sat and read their books to each other, he held the door open, she climbed into bed because she wanted to “snuggle-buggle.”

And tomorrow there will be more dishes and more bickering and also more memories waiting to be sifted and framed and stored in this heart that is as pock marked as the kitchen table.

Ordinary is outrageous the way it can take your breath away.

A quiet PS to offer grateful and amazed thanks to all who liked and shared my boring love story. It got picked up by the Huffington Post and you’re all to blame. In the best kind of way. So thank you. For reminding us all that love rarely looks like the movies. Mostly it’s so much better.

Comments

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  1. 1

    Beautiful encouraging and delightful..every word already rings true in my heart even though i have just one small babe right now. Thank you!

  2. 2

    I needed this today. Especially: “It’s all there. Once I blink the tired and temper out of my eyes, it’s all there. The glory of the ordinary day. How each one is unique even when it’s the same.”

    Today I choose to see the glory in a baby nuzzling into my neck during pre-nap cuddles. Glory in little boys filling a wagon with rocks and sticks to drag to the perfect pretend fire-making spot. Glory in the 3 year old who told me, “You’re the bestest mommy ever.” I’ll choose to sink my heart into that instead of into the whining and fussing and brother fighting.

    I love your heart, Lisa-Jo. Love glimpses into your real. Reading you find hope and meaning helps me to, too.

  3. 3

    One of the reasons we homeschool is because we get to enjoy those ordinary days together more often.

  4. 4

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s so true: monotony can be mind numbing at times. But the payoff of being the one who gets to be there with these wonderful little treasures as they grow and learn and discover new things makes it all so worth it!

  5. 5

    Your writing is amazing! It is the ordinary that our children will remember for the rest of their lives!

  6. 6
    Carla Silvestre says:

    Hello Lisa Jo, I need to thank you for allowing me to see that I’m not a monster. Since everybody I talk to makes motherhood sound so full of bells and fluffy clouds and eye gazing joy 24/7, I felt, for the last 3 years somewhat of an unfit mother… Sometimes I feel tired, sometimes that loooong chain of whys asks for more than I can give! Sometimes I have a little mental dance when my daughter leaves for school and I can sit in the silence with a cup of coffee. And you allowed me to see that it is all part of being a human mom. I also need to tell you that I love your writing. It is always a well spent moment going through your words. There is somewhat, an element of poetry in your writing and it is a delight. Thank you again.

    • 7

      Hey Carla, I felt that same way for a long time after my first born. I couldn’t understand why motherhood seemed so easy for everyone else. But since then I’ve learned that we all ride the same roller coaster and some days we’re up and some days we’re down. And the best gift we give each other is simply admitting that it’s hard as well as wonderful and suddenly everyone can breathe again. Blessings on your ride today.

  7. 8

    Very timely! I’m a stay at home Mommy but summer vacation is a true test to the strength of Moms and Dads everywhere. Yesterday I felt cranky and inadequate but the wonder of sleep is truly powerful. This blog is my inspiration to get off the pity pot and try again. I don’t have a lot of family in town so this helps me to remember I’m not the only Mom who feels like this at times. Thanks!!

    • 9

      We are also stranded far from family – I know that ache of going it alone far too well. Hang in there – here’s to grace just enough for one day at a time.

  8. 10

    “It’s all there. Once I blink the tired and temper out of my eyes, it’s all there. The glory of the ordinary day. How each one is unique even when it’s the same.”

    Thank you, Lisa-Jo. How I needed this today. Blessings.

  9. 11

    You nailed the description of nightly potty breaks with my sweet girl. Made me cry and helped me get focused on this very monotonous but oh so blessed job I have been given as wife and mommy. Thank you so much.

  10. 12

    Thanks for reminding me that the ordinary days are the best days of our lives! My children are now all grown up or teenagers and I miss those ordinary days so much….those days when I looked forward to running to the grocery store for 5 minutes of alone “mommy” time! Feel blessed if you have dirty dishes and a messy house…and happy children who “wuv” you and a husband who takes your kids to the park! Have a blessed day!

  11. 13

    OK, now YOU are to blame (in the best way, ha!) for making me cry! ;) My baby boy turns 10 this year and we still snuggle-buggle on the precious “ordinary” Saturday mornings when no one has to be out of the house by 7am! I’m so happy I found you and I thank you so much for sharing with us. I work outside of the home full-time and have always struggled with not being enough of a mommy for my kids, but you always find a way to remind me that it’s the little things ordinary that count. Love and hugs!

  12. 14

    I love this. Yes, it all mingles together so beautifully! Appreciate your words here!

  13. 15

    I love you. You are awesome. That is all.

  14. 16

    Thank you, Lisa-Jo. I so needed this today. Sometimes the monotony makes me wonder if each tedious task as a stay-at-home mom is really worthwhile, even though deep down I know it is. It’s wonderful to have a reminder every now and then. Like Jen, I live far from family and it is so important to know we are not alone in these experiences. Lovely post.

  15. 17

    I have been trying to do this. To take pictures in my mind of this moment. Her swinging on the tire swing, it’s a wonderful world playing in the background. Him finally getting the courage to swing by himself. That moment at the zoo watching his favorite, the rhino, up close and personal, and the wonder in his eyes. When she learned to buckle her seatbelt herself. All of these little treasures, in this summer that’s gone too fast and too slow all at the same time!

  16. 18

    Beautifully true, beautifully true.

    I love the “I wuv you, mama,” too. It is in those quiet moments when I am helping my precious little one for the “umpteenth” time with some ordinary task and out of nowhere he gazes sweetly at me and sighs, “I love you,” that I remember… it is *so* worth it all! :)

    Thank you again, Lisa-Jo.

  17. 19

    hi Lisa, your words are like lyrics to a beautiful song … they bring joy to my heart. such a beautiful reminder of why motherhood is such a gift … i pray that when i am overwhelmed with the responsibilities attached to it, i will be reminded by the blessings of the Lord’s presence through the ordinary events that make up beautiful memories for each of my kids (still call them that even if they are all grown) thank you for sharing your moment with us. — April

  18. 20

    You capture it so well!

  19. 21

    I loved this post, Lisa. I find myself doing the same thing — blinking through the mundane to see the sacred and beautiful. Thank you for the constant reminder that this mothering is sacred work. On the most difficult, fussy, mundane days, that message is water on parched ground. Thank you.

  20. 22

    I’ve been struggling to get through the ordinary some days but I am starting to understand the phrase about how the days are long but the years are short. My oldest boy is also turning 8 and I’m just trying to hold onto the sweet moments of this little boy who still wants his mama but also is reaching towards more independence.

  21. 23

    Lisa-Jo, you bless me, every day. These ordinary days lately have been trying. I don’t get nearly enough time during the week with my kids, and then I’m so busy with plans and to-dos that I’m rushing them toward bedtime without soaking in the few short hours and lovely moments I am given to build memories with them. Thank you for the reminder not to gloss over the ordinary in my days, the sound of my son asking me to help him with his dinner prayer, or the warmth of my daughter as she wraps her arms around my neck and melts into my lap. I need to let go of the to dos I’ve piled up for myself. That blog post can wait. Those tweets can be scheduled later. The email doesn’t need to go out now. Thank you.

  22. 24
    Library Momma says:

    Thank you! It is like you opened my head and heart and put all those emotions into words. God bless you for this, I so needed this gentle wonderful reminder to enjoy my children and the job of motherhood!

  23. 25

    Thank you for the reminder that beauty and value are in the ordinary days!

    Also, I wanted to say that I very much enjoy your style of writing and look forward to reading your blog posts. I am not a mom, nor a wife, yet your words minister to my single heart as well. Thank you for letting us into your “ordinary days” and “boring love story” and letting us know that we are not alone in our fears and imperfections and that our lives can be beautiful and meaningful despite (because of) those imperfections. Thank you for showing us that ordinary and “normal” are sometimes synonyms for amazing.

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