I have been mulling over the words of Ruth Simons that I read on Instagram a week ago. Ruth was talking about the daily acts of living that we all go through – the making of meals, the cleaning up of mess, the tidying of toys, the reading of stories again and again:
‘These mundane and every day tasks are not passing the time until something better comes along; they are preparing and teaching us how to live well now.’
- Ruth Simons.
So often I find myself looking forward to the day when I spend less time on my hands and knees cleaning food from the floor, or wondering yet again how on Earth three of us manage to make so much mess in our house every. single. day. In these moments, I am tempted to feel a discontentment with life, and the seemingly mundane acts of living that are never going to go away. I think about what life will look like in sixty years time, and although my days of spending time on bended knee scrubbing dried cereal off the floor will be long gone, there will still be laundry and cooking and cleaning that need to be done. The need for these chores to be done can never go away, but my inclination towards discontentment is something that can change. I often think about the Proverb in the Bible that says, 'out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks', and I want to cultivate a heart that is content and full of gratitude in all things. Ruth Simons' words made me think about how much time I waste by feeling discontent, and how many opportunities I miss to live well now, simply because I get caught up in thinking about other more 'worthy' things I would prefer to be doing with my time.
These are the days when I think about the quietness and simplicity of motherhood; of the daily predictability that comes with just living. The repetition of meals and naps and mess and stories that can be relied upon by us and by our children to feel unfulfilled and completely secure with familiarity respectively, and in equal measure.
These are the days when I think about the daily sacrifice and energy, patience and love, hard graft and great kindness that my Mother showed day in, day out in for years and years as she raised the four of us.
These are the days where I thumb through the photos that have just landed on my doorstep, showcasing some of the simple moments of our lives from the last few months. The image that stays in my mind is of my daughter aged fourteen months, prodding her little index finger into the bread dough, learning through touch about the properties and process of this simple food that we break daily but that holds profound symbolism for me in relation to my faith.
We bake the bread and we break the bread and I think about how Jesus broke bead with his disciples shortly before he was crucified. And my heart is humbled anew at the way Jesus chose to lay down his life for us.
These are the days where my head hits the pillow at the end of the day and I feel a humility and heaviness around this journey of parenting and the precious and precarious paths it often leads us down. In those fleeting moments before sleep draws me, my heart offers up quiet prayers of gratitude at the mercy and kindness of God that I see again and again in the beautiful places and broken parts of our lives that no-one else sees.
These are the days where I hear the bird song that heralds Spring, permeating the air, and I realise that my thoughts have once again, come full circle. That every Spring, I unconsciously wait for this moment to arrive, where I hear their songs louder than any other sound outdoors, and I am grateful for the birthing of beauty in the world after the death of Winter. I am grateful that the death of Winter does not signal the end, but prepares us for the new life that will come; and I think again, year on year, that death is not the end.
These are the days where I try and allow the simple moments a little more time to sink into my memory; because these simple things are precious gifts that I can choose to be grateful for; the moments where my daughter smiles up at me from her buggy, her face stained with the sweet juice of a strawberry – the kind offering of the greengrocer for her to enjoy.
These are the days where we read the same stories over and over again, and re-visit the same photos of the spider and the deer at every meal time spent around our dining table. And in that repetition of stories and signing, of spooning food from bowl to mouth over and again, I see beautiful growth in the smallest of ways. I see my daughter learning in ways that seem utterly marvellous to me, but completely normal to others, because that is the beauty of parenting. We get to see and celebrate the way these precious little one grow from tiny babes into toddlers, who are determined to master new skills, in just a few months. These small moments that seem quite miraculous to us as parents are such humbling gifts, that celebrating them and giving thanks to God for them comes naturally. And I see again and again the opportunities for my heart to be shaped in profound ways through the simple acts of living.