I have a friend who has the most fantastic stories and life adventures.
It seems as if for every update there’s a story and a parallel and something experienced. It’s pretty cool – I’ve never met anyone with the depth of life like that and so many unbelievable journeys and travels and things given to kids.
I love hearing them. For real.
And then one day I found myself discounting my stories.
I didn’t seem to have stories and life moments that matched. I didn’t know how to relate or what to say and my life felt, well, it just felt rather dull. And boring. I just felt like I didn’t have a story to add.
I had twenty years of being a mom.
Of diaper changes and throw-up moments and learning how to calculate the aim and hold the bucket. Of times spent in hospital rooms praying desperately for answers. Of many many boring days and many many days where I wanted to throw in the towel. Of no money. Boy oh boy do I have stories like that – stories of counting change in the grocery store parking lot and trying to make ends meet and the shame that I attached to myself about not having a checking out account with abundance.
My stories felt small to me.
You know. They weren’t grandiose. There wasn’t crazy adventure.
There was so much normal. So much time ticking by.
So I started to hide my stories a bit.
To tuck them away thinking that they weren’t as valuable because they didn’t have the element of adventure as everyone else’s seemed to have. They’d share and I’d sit there at the table silent because, well, in my mind, I didn’t have anything to add. And oftentimes the silence would result in me sitting there thinking about how my life didn’t really measure up. And really, it was those years where I drowning in the crazy of motherhood and everything seemed to fall apart that felt like years that I had simply lost.
But if they were to ask me about how to soothe a colicky baby or what it was like to have surgery when I had a toddler or the first year of baking gluten free cookies at Christmas I could have chimed in. Or if it had been about the songs I would make up before bedtime or how sometimes I’d take the long road home so I’d have a minute more of silence or that my gardens surrounding my yard are all there because they represent a bit of life I could control – well, then, I would talk. Or of the bonds between brothers that made my heart melt or how I learned to love the dirt plots under the swing or the freckles on their faces – then I knew what to say.
Life doesn’t seem to have a highlight reel for those moments.
Life, on the surface, seems to celebrate the Disney trips and the scanning of boarding passes and awesome traveling leagues and concerts at night and wonderful awesome things and in that many times the simple is lost.
But it doesn’t make the small and boring and is that what life is about? days of motherhood small.
My story, my last twenty years, even though there isn’t an amazing crescendo in it is not small.
Because those stories, as little as they may feel, are the stories that make up the fabric of who I am today. They are the reason I have empathy. They are the stories that led me to sit in front of a computer to type. They are the moments that my children and I shared as they grew and learned and I learned to slowly let them go.
Your stories matter.
I know there are some of you out there that look at your life and wonder how it became your story. You look at social media and compare the highlights of others with your own. You wonder if this is what life is about. And sometimes, sometimes life can just have this way of making us feel small.
But I’ve learned motherhood isn’t ever small.
A life isn’t ever small.
Our lives are a collection of stories that make memories.
Whether they are big or seemingly small.
In fact, sometimes the smallest things are the biggest things.
I have this memory of Christmas when I was a child. It was an amazing Christmas – you know the year when your folks get it completely right and you keep opening present after present of everything you always wanted? That was this year. But, I don’t remember the presents.
I remember that that Christmas the skies of Minnesota opened up and the most magical fluffy white snow poured from the sky piling up as fast as can be. I remember playing outside, with those thick snow pants on, and feeling such joy. I remember hot chocolate – probably the cheap Swiss Miss stuff – but that my mom made it.
It wasn’t about the stuff.
It was about the moment.
And somehow when I started to dismiss my stories and compare my life with my friends I began to lose the beauty of my moments lived. I started to qualify and rank them on a scale of outward success and not internal joy.
You know, honestly, it, my life, probably looks like a mess. There are things that just make me cry – like always hoping to take my girls to Disney and never being able to do it and then feeling just a sense of loss. There have been so many that have had pity on me over the years – pity for not having money or life being hard or any of that.
But, you know what, I’ll tell you my stories aren’t any less than if I had every dream that I hope for.
It’s because our stories and our adventures are gifts.
It’s because maybe the stories don’t need the gigantic moments, but are rather dotted with these moments of bravery and love and giving that we do as a mom. It’s where we thought we would quit but we keep going. It’s in loving those kids that drive us absolutely crazy. It’s in getting up morning after morning after morning and just being a mom.
Being a mom.
Do you realize how profound that is? What a story that is in itself?
Don’t let the agendas and stories of others diminish the incredible story you have lived.
When my daughter Hannah was just days old my grandmother simply wanted to hold her. She didn’t ask for picture or fix anything. She didn’t need anything else. She didn’t need photoshop or Starbucks or trips to Europe or new clothes or perfectly made dinners or any of that.
She just wanted to celebrate family. Life. A passing of motherhood.
Motherhood is an unbelievably beautiful story.
Don’t ever think it’s small, my friend.
Because it’s gigantic.