If you were coming over today to sit awhile at my table, I’d pour you a steaming cup of maple tea. It’s smooth, creamy, dreamy, divine and only six (or seven, or, gulp, nine?) years old. Forgotten at the bottom of my tea basket. Is tea still good after nine years? This tea is.
I’d tell you not to look at the dust on my baseboards. Instead, look at the victory achieved at the bottom of the stairs–no child gate! Another milestone reached. And that lovely black smudge from our lovely black cat who has spent the last 18 months squeezing himself between the gate and the wall? Gone, thanks to a hearty dab of elbow grease, compliments of Big Friend.
It’s the small things in life, isn’t it?
And sometimes it’s the big things.
Like how I’ve spent the last two weeks of 2011 waging mental skirmishes with the propaganda war assaulting my brain: somewhere along the line I’ve bought into the notion that this particular stay-at-home-mom has somehow fallen off the radar into no-man’s land. That way off ahead of me in the distance I can see some celebratory finish line labeled “Your Potential!” and I know I stand no chance of reaching it. That my whole life has come to this: a mediocre laundress, negligent maid, and full-time babysitter. What, again, was the point of a masters degree and the accompanying student loans I’m still writing checks for each month? What happened to the legacy I thought I was spreading in a classroom stuffed to the gills with future-generation-potential? It’s hard to battle against such thoughts, I’d tell you, but one part of my mind is putting up a valiant defense. It’s the part of my mind that won out when I was battling between returning to work or quitting for awhile to be home with Little Friend. It’s the part of my mind that says this, THIS, is my legacy now:
It’s a legacy that will take many, many years of cultivation and investment. Kind of like that money that slips into the 401K each month, not to be seen again for decades. It’s a legacy that can’t be seen, unlike the piles of laundry, loads of dishes, and buckets of dirty floor water that are currently all I have to show for my daily job. It’s a legacy that takes faith. Real faith. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV). So when I look around at what I can see (friends going off to work in polished, professional outfits while my own work clothes hang in my closet, aging undisturbed), it takes a trial of faith to remain convicted about what I can’t see–that these years (of mopping floors and folding interminable cycles of wash with nothing else, no other title to accompany my name, to show for my time) will result in children who are well-grounded, secure, independent, giving people. I’m grateful to Megan Tietz of Sorta Crunchy for sharing her own deliberate pursuit of a motherhood legacy over at Simple Bites. Her post, Building the Legacy Your Children Will Remember is a must-read for any mom (whether stay-at-home or gainfully employed). In it, Megan encourages us all that “Grace comes in to remind us that even the smallest, most seemingly insignificant, or even boring things are the things our children will remember long after we are gone. Bike rides, bubble baths, making cookies, singing silly songs loudly, hide-and-seek on rainy days, and hopscotch on the sidewalk — these are a pivotal part of what we will leave behind.”
Would you like some cream in your tea?
I’d chat about how much I’m loving raw milk. After six months of converting to this luscious straight-from-the-udder variety, I can barely look at a gallon of grocery store milk without shrinking back a bit in fear. The more I practice eating like a pre-convenience-food woman, the healthier I feel, the more in control of my diet I am, and the more aware I become of God’s bounty in providing for us. Without factories. Or neon colored cereals. Or foods that have had DNA face-lifts in some petri dish. I’d tell you that you just have to sign up for the Real Food for Rookies class over at Kelly the Kitchen Kop. (I’d probably set down my tea cup at this moment just so I could have both hands free to gesture for emphasis.) The class has been a difference maker in my kitchen. (Can you tell I just spent some time celebrating a Steeler’s victory this weekend?)
And while we’re at it, we’d probably talk a bit about going for Super Bowl Win #7. I have to get Little Friend a Steeler’s shirt. (Or should I not get one? Will that jinx things? They won the first play off game with nary a stitch of black and gold on her frame. Dilemma, dilemma.)
After sending the plate of pumpkin muffins (divinity redefined, even after a toddler’s “help” in spilling the flour and over-mixing the pumpkin purée) your direction for seconds (or thirds), we’d muse over my plans for updating the house. Because I feel stuck in a rut. Career-wise (see our first major topic of conversation), weather-wise (snow plus toddler equals cabin fever), and hence house-wise (I won’t disclose how long it’s been since I attempted to spruce up the decorating. Let’s just say rearranging to squeeze in the Christmas tree was noteworthy.)
Nesting Place has inspired me. I stumbled across this lovely design and life blog the other week and felt I could conceivably hitch my train to this “I think I can” locomotive. With design ideas that are practical yet uplifting and a commitment to make smart decisions with frugal budgets, The Nester offers encouragement and inspiration that seems doable. So watch out dining room. And stairwell. And yes, even you, living room. Coming soon, we’ll see some simple before and after photos. Maybe we’ll give the ol’ cabin a fresh, new mid-winter look.
Finally, before you slipped out the door into that winter wonderland, I’d ask you about dealing with the heart-wringing moments of motherhood. They’re new to me, these twists, and twinges, and wrenches. Because I can’t hold onto her forever. And my protection, like any force field, has its limits. At two, Little Friend is beginning to venture outside of my world. Like this weekend, when she disappeared into the fray of six children under the age of four. She, the next to youngest, diligently collecting play money to stash in a play piggy bank. She, who fumbled up the steps after the “big girls,” calling their names in her garbled, new speech. She, ignored by the bigger girls with bigger legs and bigger vocabularies, who persisted in following them around, calling, calling, to be included. Like the heart attack launched with no warning, the mama’s heart in me clenched. It hurt. But I could do nothing, and should do nothing, to smooth out Little Friend’s world. I could only sit back and watch, heart pulsing with love and this new heart-smashing sensation of fear? anger? pride? defense? love?. Is this heart-wringing moment what it will be like for her whole life? Will it just get worse?
You’d thank me for the visit and agree that the maple tea was certainly delicious. Then, and only then, I might divulge its age. Then again, maybe I wouldn’t. Because dusty baseboards and old tea aside, I’d hope you’d consider coming again next week for Tea on Tuesday.