Everyone knows the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Very profound. Thank you, Einstein.
But somehow, it is easy to reduce the value of the everyday at times with this parenting gig.
Our culture revolves around goals, accomplishments, scientific studies, timeframes, recognition….all with fantastic benefits. I wonder if part of the struggle of many stay-at-home parents is the lack of clearly defined accomplishment and recognition. I wonder if part of the struggle for some parents who work outside the home is the lack of time to do all they would like at the level of excellence they’d like.
When I hear that someone I love has been promoted, has received an accolade or pat on the back for a job well done, it is thrilling. I am connected to this mover and shaker! Hard work pays off! Good for my friend! And, who doesn’t like to be appreciated? In fact, I’d venture to say that if you can make people feel valued and appreciated, you will have a dedicated following wherever you go.
Somehow though, this model doesn’t translate directly to parenthood. There is very little “peer recognition” around here. I’ve never been invited to a dinner celebrating a “A Year of Dinner! Come join us to celebrate Beth’s outstanding work creating nourishing and varied dinners for her family five days a week this year!” Would you be more motivated to promote excellence in the “laundry department” if you knew it might help pad your Christmas bonus? I’d wield that bleach pen with enthusiasm! And second only to undergoing dental work without anesthesia, one of the more difficult experiences in life is caring for two active young children while very ill. Fresh out of sick leave.
I joke, but as a Mom, it’s easy to struggle at times and wonder what the value is of what we’re doing here. After scrubbing toilets and washing the fridge out in the company of a toddler, I sometimes wonder whether this is the highest and best use of my time. After all, does the toddler really benefit from my cleaning activities? When I hear about a friend’s new promotion and all the wonderful things that go with it, I am so joyful for them! And then I get myself thinking….pesky thinking…and start to ponder what I’ve accomplished that day….joy peters out a little….
Every day, like you, I am a problem solver. But a mom’s conundrums look more like this: how am I going to stage taking out the trash and washing the can, getting the dog poop out of the front yard without bringing it through the house (gross!), vacuuming, rearranging the play-doh storage, making beds, feeding everyone three meals of good food, and spending quality time with each son while trying to keep them from killing each other today…oh, and every school uniform shirt has mysterious orange stains on them and need to be cleaned TONIGHT. It is busy, but seems less glamorous somehow than saving someone’s life or getting kudos from the boss. Certainly it doesn’t come with a Christmas bonus.
But for those of you who are wired, like me, to *need* supportive people and encouragement to rise above doubt, know this: the little moments mean the world. Because in between those moments you are building. Spending twenty minutes at the arboretum making the swan gourds chatter like a bunch of schoolgirls has value to the small boy trying to grasp conversations and pretend.
Taking the time to really *process* through the scary mummy on a neighbor’s house has value to the child who is scared by it and is practicing real vs. pretend. Walking to the playground for a picnic dinner to hear why their day was so rough they found it necessary to clock two other kids is worthwhile for the boy who was hauled around the day before to doctor’s appointments and school activities and told to sit down and be quiet one too many times by those he looks up to most, only to anger them and fall into a hopeless anger that he just couldn’t do anything right.
To feel heard is to generate a fresh start.
Building a boy is more than getting your kid old enough to leave. There are memories we give him that will make them a more attentive father. There are experiences we give him that will make them a more compassionate husband. Your girls will have their own blueprint of what it means to nurture when it’s her turn because of who we are today. The value our children place on themselves will be influenced by who we are now…in between washing the dishes and volunteering at school…and also who you are someday…
Building our children is like building Rome. It is each day that is left open for opportunity. Today, tomorrow, and everyday until our last….we have the opportunity to build on the existing, to learn something new to help our child be something stronger than before. Oh, and while you’re at it, someone shoved potato peels down the garbage disposal and it stopped working, so you’ll need to check on that too 😉
Do you feel like your parents’ involvement continued to impact you into adulthood?
Did you/do you struggle with finding value in the everyday, amidst the process happening under your nose or is it easy to keep the big picture in focus?