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I awake suddenly to screaming. Glance at the clock. 5:07 am.
I fumble in the dark for my nightgown – which I discover later was put on inside-out.
I shuffle through the bathroom into his room, where I find a nightlight turned off and a child frightened. I sit on the bed and rub his back. His eyes close, but I know he’s not sleeping. I think about moving toward the door, but his eyes open and he wants me to rock him.
I resist. No, Mommy needs to go lay down in mommy-bed. It’s too early to be up.
He starts crying before I’ve even moved toward the door – a cry thick with the congestion of allergies. A cry I don’t want to hear this morning. I scoop him up into my arms and give into his pleas to rock.
We rock for a long time. His eyes are closed, his breathing is heavy – but underneath the blue knit blanket I can feel little twitches and jolts reminding me that he’s not really asleep. It’s not worth the risk to lay him back down. I know my husband will be up in less than an hour. I can deal with a fussy-I-was-up-at-5-am-and-I-cried-for-an-hour boy or I can let him rest in my arms and “sleep” for an hour. I choose the latter.
My mind goes back to yesterday. When he woke up at 6, poopy. He’s been doing that a lot these days. The waking up early. And the pooping early.
I had to deal with the diaper before I’d had a sip of coffee, thinking to myself that such behavior should be outlawed at such an hour.
Then there was the lost iPod. Two bags of trash to deal with. A quick run into Food Lion and the Dollar Store. No Ezra, too far, come back. Stay by Mommy! The gym. Having to go back out to my car for the iPhone I left there. Realizing I left the two bags of trash in the trunk…again. (Wondering where all of my brain cells have gone.) Laundry. Dinner in the crock pot. Mod podge. A boy who resisted quiet time. Folding laundry while he wrecks my nice piles. Having
cuddle time jump-on-the-bed-and-jump-on-mommy time for 45 minutes because he just has so much energy. Trying to talk on the phone my your brother with a 3-year-old on my head. Finding the missing iPod that night in a drawer.
But now it’s 5am, the next day, and I’m looking down into that sweet face by the light of the nightlight.
There are moments where I wonder if this mundane crud-we-are-out-of-bananas-again life matters. Where I look in the mirror at the messy I-didn’t-even-bother-with-a-hairbrush bun on my head and and wish I could be more. Do better. Accomplish everything on my to-do list and my bucket-list and my list of dreams.
But some days I’m tired and I forego the laundry to work on a birthday project for this child I love so much. And I know it will matter to him.
And in this moment, rocking him, I know it matters.
There’s a lot of talk in the blogging community about “being intentional,” making moments count. Not letting life go by without thought or intention of all of the opportunities we have to love our children, teach them, train them. Being wise with our time. And I get it. It’s a good thing to keep in mind.
But sometimes, I try too hard. And then all of those “intentional moments” go wrong and I end up angry and frustrated that I tried in the first place.
But a few days ago I read this post which shifted my perspective a bit:
Lord willing, there may one day be hearty doses of where-with-all to paint the walls that color you’re dreaming of and do those special, extra, intentional things with your kids. There may one day be more money, more time, more energy, more normalcy. Or there may not.
We make things too complicated. There are good things to accomplish and pursue, endeavors and desires that go above and beyond the lowest tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. But when life has us down due to health, drama, a new baby, crisis, depression…how ’bout we table the extras and be fine with just showing up?
Receive the Grace that says loudly and clearly and with so much love, Hey! If all you ever do each and every day for the rest of your life is just show up, it’s enough. And then take that Grace you’ve received and pass it around to the rest of the stragglers who are saddled with guilt because they’re in a season when all they can do is show up too. And they think it’s not enough.
If you’ve checked your own incredibly basic, seemingly pathetic list and you’re feeling like you’re just not enough, stop right now and congratulate yourself. You’re here. You showed up. And today, that’s enough.
So today…yesterday…I just showed up. In this mundane getting-splashed-in-the-face-with-apple-juice life.
And I breathed it in:
Love in the frustration.
Wonder in the mundane.
Peace in the chaos.
Knowing that eventually, he will stop pooping at 6am. And eventually, he will be too big to rock. Eventually, he will make his own apple juice.
I may lose more brain cells and misplace 20 more tubes of Burt’s Bees in the mean time. And I’m definitely going to lose a lot more sleep. But there is a day coming beyond Daniel Tiger, beyond Little Blue Truck. Beyond getting this post interrupted so that he can sit on my lap and give me hugs and kisses. Beyond him sitting on my shoulders and pulling my hair while I write.
In case you wanted proof:
Sometimes, just by showing up, the mundane moments come to mean more than the “intentional moments.” Sometimes, the mundane just-showing-up moments are the moments that matter the most.