Saying yes to monotony
I need to tell you a little more about this season of my life.
In many ways, it got easier. I can chat with friends at the pool now without fear that someone is going to wander off and drown. Everyone can wipe their own bottoms, and I barely remember what it was like spraying down a cloth diaper. Jude, at age seven, can even fix his sisters a bowl of cereal or a sandwich when asked.
I'm "Mom" most days. Rarely "Mommy". Never "Mama".
Last Sunday: "Mom, hold me!" Lucy reaches up to me and I swing her 38-pound body up so she can perch on my hip, so her head can rest easily on my shoulder, so my chin can feel the brush her feathery soft hair. I whisper to myself, "Always say yes to this". Because there. I felt it. Time swiftly being washed away from under my feet like wet sand at the beach. I wonder. Is this the last time? Will next time be the last time? Then it hits me. It will be like my last time nursing. A time I am unable to pinpoint. One time I'll do it, just like all the other times before and then the next time won't ever come.
Tonight I got halfway through cleaning out the girls' closet (yay for my April to-do list!), and you should know that nothing makes me more aware of how fast time is moving than cleaning out the kids' closets.
"Didn't I just buy this?"
"Are we sure no one can fit into 3T?"
"These shoes. You wore them last week. How do they not fit anymore already?"
Watching my kids' limbs grow long and their pants grow short has been the most curious mix of joy and pain. As Coffee + Crumbs puts it so eloquently, it's the good kind of heartache.
Tonight: I watch my girls slither down into their blankets, piles of outgrown clothes still on the floor, and I feel tears prick the back of my eyelids. I don't know why I'm crying. They're healthy. They're growing. They're mine. I am thankful.
But at the same time I wonder, how many lasts do I miss because I eschew the mundane? Am I missing opportunities to cherish because oftentimes motherhood seems like monotony? She wore those pajamas every week for so long, how could I have known that last week would be the last week?
If you're here because you listened to the latest episode of Coffee + Crumbs and you want to know all my secrets on how I get these three munchkins to nap every day at the same time, I will tell you the truth: it was hard work... but I know that time is fleeting. For all I know, today may have been the last time, but I won't know that was the last time until I realize that next time never came.
And I'm starting to realize that's what watching our children grow up is: It's doing the monotonous tasks until we don't get to anymore. It's saying yes to the little things we love because we're not sure how much longer we'll have to love them. It's celebrating the “same ole', same ole'” while we can.
G. K. Chesterton on monotony:
The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life.
The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.
It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.