A Shift In Perspective
It is a Wednesday. A most ordinary Wednesday. I am awoken by the sound of Maelle turning off her white noise machine, picking up and dropping her clothes that I laid out with her the night before, and the sweet whispers of her morning voice as she talks cheerfully to herself. I hear the door to her bedroom swing open and her swift footsteps growing louder as they approach our bedroom door. She comes in with the grace and subtly of a small tornado, bounding towards Daniel’s side of the bed to wake him up. He rises slowly and starts his day as I lay with my eyes closed pretending to sleep for as long as I humanly can. Not much later, the sweet coos of Linden waking up becomes happy talking as he entertains himself until Daniel gets him up and ready for the day. Twenty minutes later, I am downstairs, and Daniel has left for work. The familiarity of the scene before me is as comforting as a warm blanket on a cold winters night. Maelle hangs off of one of our chairs and Linden is lounging on the couch with his milk jug hanging out of his mouth. Some Netflix cartoon is playing and I tell the kids to turn off the TV and get ready for breakfast.
I make my way into the kitchen and start preparing breakfast. With no special fanfare our day is now officially underway. I put out Maelle’s snack and water bottle for school. Flitting across the kitchen I stop to brush Maelle’s hair and throw it into a neat ponytail. When the kids finish eating, they put their dishes in the sink and get ready for the day. We pile into the car and drop Maelle off for school. We kiss goodbye and Linden and I rush off to the grocery store so I can pick up some milk and cleaning supplies that I need in order to get us through the week. Linden and I get back into the car and make our way to his gymnastics class. I have enough time to make a quick stop at Tim Hortons for a coffee and some cookies for Linden and his best friends who are also in the class. Linden expels his energy, jumping on trampolines, swinging from ropes, and walking on balance beams. When gymnastics class finishes we play at a nearby park with his friends to kill some time before we are back in the car to pick Maelle up from school. Today, we arrive at her school early and make our way to the yard where we watch her play with her friends. After school ends, we collect Maelle from her classroom, hop back in the car, and head home. When we get home I serve the kids lunch and put Linden down for a nap. Maelle has quiet time and I take a moment to eat my own lunch. I work with her on her reading and writing and then we sit down to relax and watch a show together. Before we know the time to wake Linden has arrived. Linden is up and I give him a snack. We head outside to ride bikes and enjoy the beautiful spring weather. Forty-five minutes later, Maelle gets ready for swimming. I pack her swim bag, along with some toys and snacks to entertain Linden. Maelle swims while Linden plays. After her swim class ends we head back home. Upon arrival, it’s straight upstairs to take a bath. With the kids clean, I make my way downstairs to get dinner ready. They eat and then watch some shows as I tidy up. We head upstairs and start the bedtime routine. Books are read, teeth are brushed, and the kids are tucked in. I head back downstairs and make my way to the basement where I do a quick run and some free weights - the only exercise I have the energy for. My night ends with a late dinner, some blogging, and mindless TV.
This is a pretty typical day for me. There is, admittedly, some variation in the activities and classes amongst the rigorous schedule of naps, quiet time, meals, and bedtime routines. Between the day's tasks are my daily must-dos - the things that I complete almost every day that are so commonplace I perform them on autopilot. These include making meals, washing the dishes, cleaning the countertops, helping to tidy little messes, laundry, folding, groceries, vacuuming, changing diapers, buckling kids in and out of the car, driving, feeding the dog, scheduling, and the general day to day happenings that primary caretakers complete without thinking.
All that I do in a single day sometimes gets lost in the highlight reel of our family’s successes. My day-to-day life isn’t glamorous. It isn’t the type of life that books are written about. I have no co-worker here to give me a high five when I change an exceptionally messy diaper. Nobody suggests I deserve a raise when I brilliantly register our children into all of their classes in a perfectly coordinated schedule. There is no one to post my photo as employee of the month when I complete the third load of laundry and manage to shower, get dressed, and put on makeup. Nobody praises my ability to have a snack prepped and ready to go every single day or the fact that I make sure milk is always in the fridge and enough gas in the tank to get us from point A to B. I won’t be receiving an award for my ability to purchase and wrap birthday gifts, or a medal for my attention to detail when it comes to party planning. And this lack of acknowledgment and appreciation is why motherhood can be isolating, all-consuming, and thankless. The daily grind can wear on you if you let it. I make sure the day-to-day tasks are complete to better the lives of my family members. All of these small, seemingly easy tasks, are stitched together to comprise the very fabric of my family’s lives. Without the daily must-dos, our household would fall apart. And although most anyone can do these tasks, most anyone doesn’t. I do them.
It has taken truly shifting my perspective to be able to see my life from the outside and understand the impact of my every day happenings. And although it may not be earth-shattering like my husband's career of advising CEOs and solving multimillion dollar problems, and getting raises and bonuses commensurate with his output; and it may not be awe-inducing like the life of Maelle whose ability to ride a bike, read exceptionally, and climb to the tops of ropes has people absolutely floored by her determination and skill; and it may not be amazing like watching Linden grow and develop before my eyes - witnessing his language evolve as he conquers new challenges he previously would never attempt. It is still important work. It takes mindfulness to focus on the present moment and to be thankful for the job I get to do. With how busy my life is right now I don’t want to lose sight of the importance of what I am doing, even when it seems mundane, repetitive, and tedious. For without the work I do every single day, all of the things my family accomplishes wouldn’t be possible. Where I am the one holding the rope making sure there is no slack, they get to climb safely to higher heights. And if I should decide to let go, or even give a little so that rope is no longer taut, then they would come crashing down.
One day, life will change. But for now, the season I am walking through currently doesn’t afford me with opportunities to be the center of attention. Presently, my family has all of me, almost all of the time. Sometimes this requires me to shift my viewpoint and to remind myself of the importance of my role. I need to actively remind myself to show gratitude for the fact that I get to be in this position and what a fortunate position it is to be the glue that holds this little unit we created in place; so that each individual in my family can find success on their own terms, which in turn is me finding success at what I do.