This is the first post in a series of memoirs you’ll find on my blog. Often we get caught up in constantly seeking information online. These memoirs are meant to be a return to the sharing of stories- a return to the reason I love writing most.
It was over a mid-day, impromptu bath time that I felt myself going a little crazy.
I felt the familiar feeling of my breath speeding up. The anxiety started creeping in gradually, and then it was faster. Then faster, still.
I think it started because I tried to do something different. I tried some sensory activities with Gemma. First, it was inspired by a social media story of another mom I followed. Then I did some Pinteresting. And it was all out of a genuine want to do something fun with Gemma, something that would stimulate her brain a little more than the typical taking-all-the-toys-out-of-the-basket game we usually play.
I got a pan out and some different kitchen utensils so we could make some “music.” This went well. She had fun. She was focused on the game.
And then I wanted to try something more crafty, so I took to Pinterest again. I’m not sure why I thought it was a good idea to take a 10 month old from one sensory activity to the next, and right before lunch time.
I think at some point I switched over from wanting to do something fun with Gemma to wanting to check the boxes on the to do list that makes me feel like I’m an extra-great-mom, not just the mediocre one that I often tell myself I am.
The result was making “cloud dough.” I had the ingredients that Pinterest so kindly told me I needed. Only flour and coconut oil! Perfect! And it’s edible! Great! This would be fun, I thought. We’d make little molds out of measuring cups. And mostly, we’d squish it in our hands.
I quickly made the dough, found our picnic blanket, and headed outside, baby in tow. Hungry baby in tow. I was so engrossed in being the type of mom that does multiple sensory activities with her baby in one day, that I didn’t even realize we were actually past our normal lunchtime.
First, it was adorable. We sat down, and Gemma was afraid to touch the dough. She pulled her hand away in silly, stiff movements. Then, she went all in. All in with throwing it everywhere, and all in with eating it. And though it was edible, it was also gross, and I quickly realized my baby was hungry, and by trying to be super-mom, I neglected lunchtime (oops).
We couldn’t go straight there. We needed a bath, of course, because my sensory play idea went rogue, and a pasty substance dripped all over her as she ate the cloud dough. It was caked in her hands and all over her face.
Leaving the mess behind me and trying to strategically hold her in a way that didn’t get coconut oil smashed into my shirt, I took her immediately to the bath.
This was the point, when leaving a mess behind me, that my breath started to quicken. This is when the anxiety started. I tried to enjoy the cuteness of her love for bath time. I tried to savor the smiles. But really, I was anxious.
After all, lunch was ahead of me, and what would she eat? Would I be able to get it prepared without her screaming at me the whole time? When would I clean up the mess from before and the lunchtime mess? Naptime? I have to work during naptime, so can I really do both? I’ll get no work done.
“I can’t do this.” And at that thought, I started to slow my breathing that had quickly gotten out of hand.
I must consciously remind myself that everything will be okay. That the mess outside will be cleaned up. That the kitchen will be cleaned up. That I don’t have to do everything in one day. That whatever work I do that day will be enough. That I am enough for Gemma.
I must constantly remind myself that I am enough.
My thoughts so quickly go there- a spiral downward that leads me to questioning my worth. A spiral downward that makes me less content with the life I’m living, the beauty all around me.
I have learned to start catching myself. To start catching my breath. To take a minute to breathe a prayer of thankfulness while I’m standing right in the crazy. Right in the middle of the mess, I say thank you.
Because minutes later, Gemma will be done with lunch, and I’ll be singing Sesame Street along with my Ipad that is entertaining her as I clean up. I’ll sing Elmo’s ABC’s for the 15th time and continue to breathe slower, on purpose, and take in the present moment I find myself in.
And I’ll realize I am perfectly content. Perfectly happy, even. I am thankful, abundantly thankful. My heart is filled by the mundane moments of motherhood.
It is mundane magic, really.
Because the same Sesame Street songs stuck in my head day after day mean I spend my days with a smiling, growing, learning, sweet little girl.
Because messes that I must pick up during naptime mean little feet and hands have played hard and belly laughed the past few hours away.
Because minutes and hours and days that feel long amount to weeks and months that fly by. And soon these mundane days will become mundane years that I look back on with joy and a little sadness, because my baby has grown and I can’t get those mundane days back. Those magical days.
If I let my anxiety win, the mundane days will be filled with discontent.
With feeling like I can’t keep up. With feeling like I’m not enough. With resentment. With ungratefulness. With missing the moments that one day I’ll wish I could have back.
If I choose gratefulness, the mundane is magic.
The mundane is everything I hoped for. It is the good, hard work of motherhood. It is what I am called to. It is exactly what I want.
Anxiousness loves to creep in. To steal our joy. To make us believe we’re anything but good enough.
Gratefulness reminds us that though we are not good, God has called us enough.
And he has called me to this season, the season where mundane is magic if I let it be- if I allow my heart to experience it that way.
I don’t want to miss these mundane moments. I want to fill my heart til it spills over with little moments that seem insignificant. With the same song 15 times over again. With sweet smiles and tickles that I count up and save as memories for later, when the mundane days of motherhood are through and I miss them, and wish for the magic of them to return, but it won’t, and it can’t.
There will be other types of magic then, I’m sure. But for now, the mundane magic is my song. And I’ll keep singing it, over and over, at least 15 times a day, maybe more.