I chased my youngest around the yard this afternoon. I watched him feed grass to the chickens, collect toys that older kids had cast aside, and climb in and out of the wagon. He toddled happily, jabbering a bit here and there, but mostly content to soak in the sun and wander freely.
I thought so many things as I watched him. I thought about how crazy it is that next week is Thanksgiving and it’s still so warm. I thought about how I would never have let my first born conquer that sized slide at that age. I came to the decision that the best thing about babies is that they cannot roll their eyes and sigh, which you don’t really fully appreciate until other people in your house are frequently rolling their eyes and sighing great sighs.
Oh, babies. Oh, Silas. Oh, my happy little fifth.
It was a good moment for me, for us, really. A good span of time to think of sunshine and chickens, of growth and change, of the days that pile up to make weeks and months and years. Because honestly, I am so in the midst of my own life, that sometimes I forget to live it.
There’s something about motherhood that is glorious in all it’s contradictions:
It’s a singular purpose with a million things to do.
It’s a job that never ends, but isn’t a job, but is the best job ever.
It constantly convinces me that somehow I am too much and yet not enough, overdoing things but somehow lacking.
Motherhood hands you a little soul with freckles and says, “Here. Pour yourself into this tiny human being. Watch them grow. Love them with all the fierceness of your heart. Oh, and by the way, you have no control over their security, destiny, or future. And they will drive you insane. Good luck.”
And at first it takes your breath away. But then somewhere along the way, it can begin to take your self away, too. And you wonder…who am I? How did I get here, to this place? Is this me?
When did this happen, really, this transition from existing to love people and instead becoming a tired, irritable person who did not get enough done today? When did I become so defined by the state of my dining room, the height of the laundry, the ever present reality of dishes, dishes, and dishes? When did the number on the scale or the size of my jeans start to define me more than the things that I love, that I long for, that I chased? Why am I muttering about dried food on the bar stools or a million pencils with no erasers? Why, oh for the love why, can I not mate socks faster than my children wear them, and why is this so important?
The answer is complicated, I suppose, the way identity changes and grows, the way we lose ourselves in selfless and unhealthy ways, the way our life truly becomes not our own when so many little lives are depending on us. But lately I’ve been thinking, or maybe Someone has been reminding me, that it is not the size of the task that makes it sacred. It is not the scope of the audience that makes our work meaningful. And it is not any more holy to breathlessly do the exciting than it is to faithfully do the mundane.
I do that which is before me because it is mine to do. And I will seek to do it with joy and gratefulness, believing that both what I do and how I do it matter.
Oh, friends. Love your little people. The space between the baby in yours arms and the preteen looking you in the eyes is so quick, so fleeting, such a blink. My hope is that my kids will watch me flounder through this life and they’ll know that having it all together is completely optional, and that they will feel deeply, wholly loved.
That. That matters. Every day.