It was in the parking lot of our local grocery store.
Throughout my life, I have recognized that the vast majority of my "ah ha" moments actually come in the strangest of places.
I suppose, then, that this one happened right where it was supposed to.
E is very much a toddler now.
See? Not a baby anymore :(
And with her toddler status comes the many joys and frustrations that accompany this stage.So, we were in our local HEB parking lot this afternoon, and I was attempting to get her out of her car seat so that we could go get groceries and get our buns home. Grocery shopping is not one of my favorite things.
E was not happy with me. She was kicking and screaming and all sorts of discombobulated. Surprisingly, I had been able to keep my frustrations hidden and was gently talking to her explaining the importance of getting out of our seat so we could get our food.
Then, a little old lady came up to the car next to us. If you're a mom, you know that inner sigh that happens when you're trying to get your child in or out of the car and the person who had parked next to you shows up and wants to get in your car. You want to hurry up because you're certain they don't appreciate having to wait for you. If mind reading was possible, you're certain they're silently cursing you out and mumbling to themselves about how inconvenient car seats and frazzled mommies are.
With E still screaming her head off, I quickly turned my head to the woman. She was likely in her late 70s or early 80s. White, fluffy hair and round cheeks. I smiled tiredly and said, "I'm so sorry. I'll hurry!"
Usually, when I offer the "mom apology", people will wave their hand and say "no problem", but you still get the feeling they're not appreciating the need to wait. This time was different. This woman didn't say, "No problem."
"Take your time, dear. What you are doing right now is important."
What you are doing right now is important.
She truly meant it based on the tone of her voice, and I shortly thereafter had E out of her seat and we were both on our way. But that phrase, "What you are doing right now is important" hasn't left my heart or mind all afternoon.
As a mom, especially as one who has the opportunity to stay at home right now, I often find myself rushing through my days, working on my to-do list, constant routine of wiping sticky fingers, rocking to sleep and trying to negotiate with a toddler. Not glamorous at all, although I love it.
Before I became a mother, I worked a wonderful full-time career. I was doing something meaningful and important with my life. I was a productive member of society. I got dressed up every day. My hair and make-up were done. I was using my college degrees and proud of my accomplishments in my young life.
See? I used to clean up really nice!
Then I became a mother. My skin stretched in ways I didn't know were possible. My breasts became heavy with the milk that sustained my daughter for so long. Make-up was replaced by under-eye bags from nights spent rocking a child who couldn't sleep. My long hair was swept into a ponytail. Jeans and t-shirts became my new wardrobe staple.
And, still, I was happy.
Over the past year and a half, though, I think I've forgotten the divine significance of my role as a mother. It is so easy to fall into our daily routines of getting up, eating breakfast, wiping sticky hands, cleaning the kitchen, playing, rocking to sleep, reading stories, singing songs, blowing bubbles, wiping tears, diffusing tantrums....
This is ordinary calling.
What we do as mothers, whether we work outside the home or not, is important. And I was reminded of that today.
It is important because we are shaping the next generation. It is important because we are modelling for our children what it means to love others. We are instilling a desire for learning and fostering the passions we see in them from a young age. We are developing their spiritual foundations and teaching them about things of eternal value.
What we are doing is important.
Yes, even today in the parking lot of the grocery store, my role as a mother was important as I helped my toddler recognize her emotions. As I helped create predictability and boundaries. As I helped her understand that it's okay to be disappointed that we weren't going to the park.
and I will forever be thankful to the kind old woman who saw the beauty in that moment that so easily could have been lost in the mundane of my day.
Because, as a mom, especially as a mom who is human, who gets tired, who loses her temper, who gets frustrated, who is far from perfect, I needed to be reminded that what I am doing each and every day is important.
Because we won't get these days or moments back.
So, if you're tired today. If you're at the point of breaking. If you're questioning giving up a career to stay home with your children. If the sight of sticky hand prints or muddy foot prints makes you want to run for the hills, remember this:
What you're doing, right now, is important.
Our society often fails to recognize the value of a mother.
Regardless, it's there. Look for it in the little moments and in the big moments. Look for it where you'd least expect it.
Being a mother is more than giving birth and having a child. It is an honor, a privilege. We are speaking into the lives of our future world.
And what we are doing is important.