The Gift of Everyday Moments
- Deborah Wuehler Senior Editor of The Old Schoolhouse
- 2013 13 Dec
What I love about those annual Christmas letters (when we’ve taken the time to write them) is that they record the things we did together, what each of the kids was doing or becoming, and the overall blessing of God upon our family—whether in times of grief or times of joy. It’s a record of all the big stuff of the past year. But what about all the little everyday things—who records those? I bet there are a few of you who do that, but for the most part, who notices all of the many happenings that make up a day in the life of a homeschool family?
All those everyday things, those mundane tasks, as well as tired nights and mornings, have us wondering if it is worth it—getting up every day to experience the same things over again, to face the same kids, do the same work, clean the same messes, and follow the same busy schedule that barely lets you breathe. Wouldn’t it just be easier to stay in bed with the covers over your head some days? I’ve tried that . . . until that youngest child comes in and snuggles under the covers and his warm breath and little hand are on my face as he asks if I can please get up and help him because he’s “super hungry.”
Those are precious moments that could easily be looked at in tired frustration, not because we don’t love those little ones but because we fear that we are not getting all that we need. We don’t like dying daily to our wants and wishes for just a wee bit of rest or free time. We must get up to meet the same little needs every day—everyone’s needs except our own, or so it seems.
Does anyone really care, and is anyone even paying attention? I mean, really, if I am going to play the martyr, I want an audience. And on the opposite end of the spectrum of martyr is the famous homeschool Super Mom: “I do everything that needs to be done around here. I have to do all the research, planning, teaching, grading, cooking, cleaning, etc. Isn’t anyone watching my amazing Super Mom powers?” When I am playing Super Mom, I want an audience too.
Rather than looking for an audience, whether I am playing martyr or Super Mom, I should be seeking to serve and love the One Who notices everything about me. Only then would I love and serve without expecting anything in return. Then I would be acting like Jesus. He did the opposite of what I expect in my own prideful ways, and He humbled himself, taking on the form of a servant.
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:3–8).
Vainglory? Sounds exactly like what I am often seeking. Shouldn’t someone, anyone, notice all those everyday things that I do? Vainglory. According to this verse, instead of seeking our own glory, we are to be lowly of mind and not expect others to look up to our wonderful ways. Rather, we are to esteem others. We are to go low and raise others up. No self-esteem here—that speaks of “God esteem,” which esteems others. It’s a different way of thinking, a perspective that stands in contrast to the self-centered philosophies of this present society, which, unfortunately, sometimes dwell in my own house.
My two oldest homeschool graduate sons are now living in another city far away as they finish up their bachelor’s degrees. We don’t see much of each other because of the distance and their full-time school and work schedules; they are busy young men. Praise God for youth and for ambition that allows them to live these crazy lives!
They are blessed, but in their absence this momma misses all those little everyday happenings—those commonplace things that are now painfully absent. What once was taken for granted, and yes, even looked down upon in the past, is now regarded as a treasured gift.
After the little ones go to bed, when I sit at the kitchen table to work on my computer I don’t have my nighttime companion at the other end of the table any more. He would have been finishing his homework, memorizing facts, or writing papers—and doing silly little things just to make me laugh. Now it is too quiet. His older brother was usually working on art projects in his room but would call me to come see what he was doing and ask what I thought.
Now, I sit still—and alone.
There is no need for me to get up to serve them a cup of warm soup or warm cider and then see their infectious smiles. When I walk around the house late at night turning lights off and locking doors, I don’t hear their familiar “Good night, Mommy Dear—love ya!” or feel their hugs or get to pray over them out loud. Are those days really gone for good? I wish them back for a moment.
Everyday interaction and commonplace things become colossal gifts when we slow down long enough to acknowledge the brevity of time. Yes, dear mother of little ones, the time really does fly by—but not at first. At first, it seems to take forever for a young one to mature enough to offer any substantial help. We seem to drown in duties for many years until our children reach that wonderful age of being helpful, and then, just about that same time, things speed up exponentially as we begin to push them toward grander things.
And then they are gone.
We begin to see their short wings flapping as they try to fly. It will be a while before they will actually soar, but nonetheless, they are out of the nest, and we are ever watching, waiting to swoop in if necessary. I miss their presence in my nest but am proud to see them fly.
But what about them? Do they look back fondly on those everyday commonplace things from their lofty vantage point? After all, they are flying now! Why look back at that little nest that was so confining? As they are soaring around looking for a place to land, do they recall any of the thousands of sacrificial investments of time, material things, food, clothing, and transportation that got them where they are? What about the attention to all the small details of coming alongside and training, tutoring, and teaching them? Did they even notice?
Here is a letter I received from my son last month after he discovered an old Christmas letter and read the account of one year during his childhood:
Dear Mom and Dad,
In your last package, you sent us an old Christmas letter that I wrote back in 2007. Knowing that I was the one that wrote it, I casually put it on my shelf without giving it much thought. However, tonight . . . I decided to take a trip down memory lane and just go ahead and read it. To say that I am overwhelmed at this point would be a gross understatement.
Let me explain: Throughout the letter, I’m reading a lot of “they’re doing this” or “so-and-so is doing that,” etc. But one thing stuck out to me that seemed to be a common theme throughout the entire document. And it got me thinking, which eventually put me in such a deep state of dumbstruck-ness that I realized I was just sitting there staring at the wall not knowing what to do.
What I got while reading was a bunch of mental images. Flashbacks, if you will—of all the many events and happenings of years past. It seems like yesterday, and I can’t believe that those good times of carefree living are all but over. But it wasn’t this realization that gave cause to my state of immobility—rather, it was an overwhelming sense of appreciation. Appreciation that is, for my two wonderful parents: the two of you.
In my letter, it starts out with Dad, and all the things he had done that past year. It mentions going to the creek with us, taking us grocery shopping, holding family Bible studies, taking us to various pro-life outreaches, and the like. Later . . . I casually mention that my Dad had taken me to a Deaf church in Sacramento several times. And it hit me, like a part of my brain that processes reasoning and logic was suddenly opened to a whole new perspective: Did he go to the Deaf church out of his own interest? Or rather, because of an interest in his son’s aspirations and inclinations? Who else had a dad that cared enough to take the time out of their life to do things like that? My mind draws a blank when it searches for a face or a name that I can think of that meets that description. And even the miniscule things like going grocery shopping, which at the time I took as just another life necessity, became something that I now hold as cherished times, even all the times I had to go looking for him in Home Depot when he would run away with the cart and hope he could get the satisfaction of saying he lost us and we couldn’t find him. . . . It’s strange how such small and previously meaningless memories have a way of making you wish it somehow wasn’t over.
And Mom—I never really thought about how much you really did for us, especially me. I mean, I knew you did a lot, but I never really thought about just how much that really was. It all hit me when I read something I wrote under the section dedicated to you about the past year: “She: cooks meals, cleans house, keeps us in line, helps us with school, takes us different places, goes shopping, picks up Jonathon and me from class . . . everything a homeschooling mom does.” Now wait a minute—“everything a homeschooling mom does”? Did I really take all the sacrifices and extra miles you went through to take care of and support us and label it all as just something you did because that’s just “what homeschooling moms do”? Utterly absurd! The line that hit me the most was when I said you pick up Jonathon and me from class. I never really thought of it before. Those must have been hundreds of trips back and forth, not to mention all the times you dropped either one or both of us off. And you never missed a day either. Not a single day. How is it that after all the insurmountable occasions, it somehow just all went right past me as something that “homeschooling moms do”? It blows my mind. And even now just sitting here thinking about it makes me wish I had . . . thanked you more. Funny how we don’t appreciate what we had until we don’t have it any more. And even beyond appreciation, I think a measure of guilt is definitely part of the formula for these kinds of post-event reminiscing.
You both were right when you said time goes faster as you get older. And I’m sure in 10 years from now I’ll look back on these times and wonder where the time went. But that’s all just part of life, isn’t it? No one’s going to use every minute they’ve been given perfectly, free of regrets or misuse. But still, with that knowledge, it doesn’t seem to ease the burden associated with the feeling that I was given such a blessed childhood, and yet, I didn’t appreciate it as much as I do now that the chapter dedicated to that part of my life is over, and the pages now have new writing on them. Writings that don’t include interaction with family . . . I really had it good. And even though I sort of knew it at the time, I now know that it was far greater than I ever imagined.
All I can do at this point is thank God that I was given the loving, supportive, and self-sacrificing love of my two parents, who never claimed perfection but did their best nonetheless. I think it’s something that everyone has to realize and go through, and yet the more “less-exciting” life moments I remember, the more I am taken back by how privileged I actually was to have such people in my life.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I only wish that those times lasted longer.
Thank God for the gift of everyday moments: the rising and sitting and walking and working and coming and going and serving and living. Thank God we have the everyday blessing of having them Home Where They Belong.
Deborah Wuehler is the Senior Editor for TOS, participating author in The Homeschool Minute, wife to Richard, and mom to eight gifts from heaven. She loves digging for buried treasure in the Word, reading, writing, homeschooling, and dark chocolate! You may contact her at [email protected].
Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.
Publication date: December 13, 2013