*edited to add 12/20: this post was written shortly after the school shooting in Connecticut eight years ago. It is one of the most syndicated posts that I’ve written and is part of a keynote that I give about the beauty in normal. I hope you read it. Because of everything I’ve written, this post has the ability to change your perspective on the profound beauty in normal. ~rachel
I was grumbling.
Not your normal grumble, but rather that under the breath discontent grumble that can be easy to adopt when one isn’t careful. My older boys’ room looked like it had never been cleaned before. I am completely not joking sadly serious. Toys mixed together with papers with peels of a clementine that should never have been there with pens and markers and clothes and dirty socks and books and anything else you could imagine. It was all there – percolating into this gigantic mess that took me four hours to straighten and deal with. Leftovers from weeks where the cleaning was just on the surface leaving behind residue and the obvious example that looking at stuff on the surface doesn’t really solve the issue.
Grumble, grumble, grumble.
The boys would come in and offer to help and I would just grumble back at them. I don’t need your help or if you had just been a steward of your room this crazy chaos wouldn’t have happened or I’ll just do it myself. Martyr mom. That was me. Complaining, not accepting help, and just grumbling my way through normal.
I pulled out the vacuum determined to at least get the floor clean even though I had a massive pile of things to sort through. I flipped it on, the soft hum filled the room, and I looked up to see Caleb sitting there, on his bed, stacking books and pulling legos out of the pile and tossing them in the large bin. He looked at me, the grumbling mom, and simply smiled.
A sincere I love you even when you complain about this messy room smile.
As I held the vacuum, still running, my eyes welled up with tears. When did I lose the beauty in this normal, even though the normal like today was frustrating? When did the gift of having children in my home get lost and I instead just wanted every little thing perfect and tight and without mess?
Childhood is messy.
My goodness, life is messy.
We don’t know our days. This is even more pressed on me as I look at pictures of little children who are no older than my own kids whose lives were unfairly lost last week. Those parents would give anything for a room cluttered with a pile of stuff and an eager little one there to help sort through the pieces and here I was grumbling.
Perspective, perspective, perspective.
It’s so easy to lose.
Sadly, it’s often when we lose the things that matter that we regain the perspective of just how much those things, those people, matter to us. It baffles my mind how quickly I lose sight of the joy in the gifts in life that are smack in front of my face.
But, how to keep it? Keep vacuuming beautiful.
Choose something, a daily task – laundry, dishes, folding clothes, picking up – and make it a benchmark, a reminder, for you to remember the preciousness of the life that you have in front of your face. And make it something that is the most unglamorous. I’ve found that when you lose normal you miss those things the most and long for the days when you can simply vacuum a room with your seven year old sitting on the bed cleaning beside you.
Life is good. Life is a gift. Life is precious.
Don’t let the mundane moments in life rob you from the beauty of normal that surrounds you.
Remind yourself to look for the beauty, the gems that are tucked within the fabric of the everyday normal. Force yourself to wake up, to see, the remember, and to be thankful for the blessings that fill your life.
Don’t lose sight of the good.
Vacuuming is beautiful. It’s a representation of normal, and normal, my dear friends, is an absolute gift. Celebrate normal. Celebrate those vacuuming the kids floor who made a huge mess but are sitting in your home playing moments of life.
Love the little things.
Choose your normal and celebrate it from today on.
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Thank you. I understand why you couldn’t quite find the words for this beautiful message until now. The timing was divinely orchestrated and came just when we needed it. My prayer is that I remember these words and keep striving to see the beautiful in the mundane forever and always. My children deserve that.
Thank you for sharing your gift.
Thank you for this post (along with many others). Just last night, I had a moment where something small (a hair cut of all things) robbed me of being here with my baby… while so many families would probably love to be able to worry about a hair cut this close to the holidays. I tried to say words similar to this to myself and eventually snapped out of it, but hated that it took me so long. Thank you for your words… they express what I think/feel so many times.
Thank you both. Very grateful.
I wish normal wouldn’t lose the beauty so quickly. I’ve tried and tried and tried and that is my heart in choosing something normal to celebrate. I remember two years ago after Samuel got out of the hospital longing for days that seemed boring – normal – and yet I quickly would lose perspective. My deep heart yearning is for the constant love of normal as normal is truly one of the greatest gifts we are given.
Timely to this mama’s heart…not only in light of recent events but every day.
I needed this reminder today. The reminder that normal is beautiful. The messes, the training, the unfinished to-do list are all signs that I’m living the life that God has given me. And I’m so grateful that He has entrusted two little ones (soon to be three! :-)) in my care. My boys are such a blessing!
I all so often grumble. Then I remember it’s life. Kids are like this. I was like this. It’s a learning process for all of us.
Thank you for sharing.
Carrie – Blessings on number three. Celebrate today and the gift of normal. It really is a beautiful thing. 🙂
Thank you Kiley and Rachel. Glad to walk this motherhood journey with you.
I found your blog a couple of weeks ago when I googled “overwhelmed mom”. Then I sat reading with tears of gratitude streaming down my face that someone else gets it and knows what it is like…and is willing to share. Now I know for sure that I am not alone, or crazy, or a bad mom. You are being used mightily in this busy, overwhelmed mom’s life! Thank you for your insight and words of wisdom. ~Carrie
This is exactly the kind of grumbly day I was having Friday morning, and exactly what has been in my heart since perspective came crashing painfully into my world. How I ache for those families to have the blessing of mundane and pray that I hold on to this lesson. Thank you, for once again finding a way to bring light into the darkness.
As always, thank you for blessing me. Trying desperately to find joy- and be grateful for the normal. God bless you!
This spoke to me so much. You are right in every single word.
I’ve had a large dose of perspective.
Thank you. I was feeling very stressed out today about a mess that isn’t really meaningful…after all, with four kids 7 and under, it’s just supposed to be normal. I needed a little perspective.
Perfectly said. Now I am going to go grab the vacuum, hum a praise song and be thankful.
Thank you SO much for this post. So many mornings when I’ve had a rough time, I-well, first I pray and seek God’s Word, but then I open up your blog and nine times out of ten, it’s just what I needed to hear. In light of the recent events in Connecticut, and in light of the struggle I had getting frustrated with my 8 year old son this morning over something really dumb…your post really, really put it all into perspective! If my son would have been in that school on that awful day, I would have been wishing this morning that he would have been here, even if it meant dumb battles over small things—or more importantly, I wouldn’t have bothered with those small, dumb things-I would have hugged him close and loved on him. And so, I go back to my day with eyes and heart alert to the preciousness of my children, thankful for my 8 yr old, and my 3,2, & 1 yr olds, and the blessedness of this day we have been given together. Thank you again.
Thank you, thank you!
I was a little frustrated with myself this weekend when I had to spend several hours doing and putting laundry away. I was frustrated that the pile was so large that I had to climb on the pile to get to the dryer, knocking down the other folded piles! And then it happened….I had to start going through the hand-me-down shirts and pants. It made me so sad to see how little they were and how quickly they move through those favorite shirts, pants with holes in the knees and even the tiny little socks. As I was packing them away and handing them down I tried to figure out how to make things slow down a bit more. Spending time (intentional, undivided attention time) with my boys is one way to do that and I plan to savor it!
Thank you for this blog! God has given you an amazing talent to articulate what we’re thinking, struggling with and what we need as a reminder!
beautiful–especially in light of Friday
–>I have hugged my child intentionally more since Friday. He’s in kindergarten and I told him if his teacher wants extra hugs today, to let her. We all need to remember the normal. Thanks for the reminder.
My grandmother never had anything and was the happiest, most loving, most grateful person I’ve ever known. I never heard her complain, no matter what the situation. Whenever I would grumble about having to clean the house, she would say “Thank the Lord you have a home to clean.” A rambunctious toddler who gets into everything? “Thank the Lord he is healthy enough to do it!” I think of her and her wisdom often and try to be more like that. It is so hard when we get caught up in the day to day and the notion that we have to be perfect. Friday really drives home why I need to be more grateful, more loving, more present in our family life rather than cleaning and organizing it! Great post!
Beautiful words. As much as my kids may frustrate and aggravate me, I would much rather have that than them be gone from my life.
thank you for this, rachel. i’ve been quietly reading here recently, but have not yet commented. just wanted to say how much i love this post and how much it is exactly just how i have been thinking… even before something like this happened to stun our nation… and the world. i wrote about it, too…
Thank you for sharing @georgia. Perspective – I wish I would learn to keep it.
@Anna and @Marci – today I have been wandering around trying to remember to be grateful for each mess and like you said for the people, the sweet ones, who made it.
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Thank you…we so easily forget…your writings speak to me and always inspire and encourage me in knowing that I am not alone with my thoughts and feelings. Motherhood, being a woman, seeing the superwoman who seem to do it all and then some…Thanks for clearing a path to find joy in the little-and normal-things that life offers us everyday…
I can’t look at the photos…it’s just too hard on my heart. I pray so for the families. I pray for the brother and father left behind. I don’t know what happened to that boy that left him without any conscience at all. There are no answers for things like this in this life. But the Lord is still in control!
Oh the comfort of knowing that this life isn’t all there is! Whatever happens, look to the Lord and His free gift of salvation! Praying hard!
John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
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Thank you Rachel! I’ve been having similar thoughts! It’s so true how easy it is to get frustrated with our normal daily routine but we are doing amazing things with our little ones.
I don’t know about the vacuuming, but I agree we have to find joy and purpose in the small things. For me, that’s baking. 🙂 And writing. Hugging my kids. Even after tragedies like the one in CT, life does go on and we have to remember that life is a mixed bag. We are going to be troubled in this life, but it’s only temporary. God is still on the throne.
I often wonder what normal is somedays. As I look at my house and my kids toys laying around, I get so frustrated. But then I feel blessed with two wonderful boys who I addore and could not live my life without. My messy house reminds me that we are here and are lucky to be here. As I watch what happen to those beautiful kids in Connecticute it broke my heart. I couldn’t believe someone can do such harm to
wonderful children. I look at my boys and I am blessed to have them in my life no matter how upset I get at
times with them. Life can get so busy at times, that we
forget to look at simple things in life. We should be
grateful for what we have, no matter how messy it can
be. Clutter and mess will always be there , but our
families might not. All I want is simple things in my life
and if that includes mess, so be it. Motherhood is a balancing act between good and bad, and at times it can be abit overwhelming. As long as we can remember why we are here and stay true to ourselves, we will be ok. Thank you so much Rachel for reminding us that normal is good and that normal is happenies.
Praying right now for sweet Samuel! Please, Lord! Let him be okay!
Isaiah 26:3-4 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.
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Rachel, SO great to meet you through this blog! I run http://www.powerofmoms.com, and I was wondering if you would let us repost this? We’d love to publish you one way or another on our site. Keep up the great work!
Beautifully stated. Thank you for the reminder to cherish all that we have, while we have it, and to love our little ones and the chaos they create.
I’m THAT person—the one who complains in a martyr’s tone about everything ‘I’ have to do, to get things done right around here. Thank you for putting this into perspective. I pinned and tweeted, and will share on my FB page if you don’t mind 🙂
Barbara at Chase the Star
Truth in this article. Normal is amazing. My son has Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and spends a lot of time in the hospital. During our first hospitalization all I wanted was normal, to clean up after ourselves, cook our meals, just everyday mundane things. I wish I could tell you that I have kept the thankful for normal attitude these last 2 years as he’s battled but the truth is even when your normal is taken away I have found a way to be ungrateful. We do however, carry in us that our life is precious and every single moment should count.
1,000 gifts by Ann Voscamp……
I am in that boat right now. Want to have a pity party, but thanks for the words of wisdom.
This post is beautiful. Definitely one to bookmark. So many things lately have reminded me to be grateful. I imagined this week may perhaps hold difficult questions about whether Santa is real. Instead it’s consisting of questions from my son about why people are dying, children are being murdered and will we die too. These questions terrify me but also remind me of how grateful am I have to have them. And on my most frustrated days (my house feels small and messy, no matter how hard I try) I try to remind myself that one day I will miss the sticky handprints and the tiny socks that don’t pair up. One day there will be no trucks to trip over and Lego firewalks to navigate. They’ll be grown but they will always be my babies. Thanks for posting xx
Thank you for posting this! It is shocking since it is not their usual posts, but I came across this post of yours in my FB feed via Mamalode. I like them sometimes, but sometimes they get really depressing. Always writing about the negative side of motherhood. This is true at times I know, but there are so many others things great about mothering. I don’t feel encouraged by their pieces a lot & leave sad after reading. I have cut back on their stuff. This is a site I could use & need right now, so thank you again for helping others see the positive not the negative!