It’s a common saying about parenthood: The days are long, but the years are short. I think I know why the days are long. It’s because when you are the mom of young kids, nothing really seems to happen.
One day is much like another: there are the meals, the milk spills, the naps, the time-outs, the baths, the playdates (a chance to hang out with another mom! Score!), the library storytimes, the combing the house for the beloved blanket that absolutely must be in bed for your child to fall asleep.
Then comes the well-earned respite when the kids are in bed and you look back over the day and think, “What did I do today, exactly?” If someone asked you to give an accounting of how you spent your day, you’d feel like the world’s biggest slacker. I am not sure what I did with my day. I guess I did something.
Sure, there are the moments that break the monotony: the glorious big achievements (the first steps, the wobbling freedom of a bike without training wheels), the illness and accidents that land you in the ER late at night with a whole new understanding of the word fear. But for the most part, being a mom of young kids often feels like a steady drip of moments passing. It can be easy to look back at your day and think: Is this how it’s supposed to be? Weren’t there supposed to be more highs, more … well … times that were extraordinary?
I’ve come to realize that the answer is no. If we define “extraordinary” as “fascinating to everyone else in the world,” then the routine of motherhood is never going to live up to that adjective.
And that’s one big thing that motherhood and faith have in common.
Where do I find the presence of God? I’ve had a few moments of shimmering mystical something in my life, but for the most part, miracles of the Hollywood kind don’t happen to me. God does not show up in a pillar of fire or a burning bush. God does not throw me from my horse, St. Paul-style. If I wait for that kind of experience, I’ll be waiting a long time.
And yet I know God is present in my life. Praying my nightly Examen, reviewing the day and looking for God’s presence, shows me that God was there all along. God was in the sunlight coming in the kitchen window as I tried not to burn the waffles. God was in the sweet words of my younger son, who turned to me in the grocery store and threw his arms around my legs and said, “Mommy, I love you.” God was in the little glimmer of peace I felt as I stroked the hair of my older son as he slept. God was in the drawings my kids made at the dining room table, pens gripped hard in concentration. God was there, in all of it, because that’s how God works.
My faith isn’t lived out in big flashy dramatic moments. Like motherhood, it unrolls in the quiet stuff, the everyday stuff. It shows up in the things that seem bland and unimportant until I take time to pray my day, and then I recognize them for the moments of grace that they are.
That’s why motherhood is really about a new way of seeing. It’s a recalibrating of how you measure the worth of a day or a moment. It’s about reflecting on those moments that would never make good TV and recognizing that a lot of them were precious after all. They weren’t dramatic, and they wouldn’t be particularly interesting to anyone else; maybe, at first blush, they weren’t so interesting to you, either. But with a little quiet reflection, you find the touch of grace in them … and you find that a little grace goes a long way.
Copyright 2014 Ginny Kubitz Moyer