the little things
yesterday morning bina and i went to the gym. each time we go, she happily walks beside me to the entrance, holding my hand. there are two sets of double doors to proceed through to get to the lobby. each set has a button to press for handicap access. this button is her favorite part of the gym. she releases my hand and prances up to the button and WHACK hits it with her little hand. and the door opens. then she trots through and up to the next set of doors, finds that button and WHACK hits it again. we enter the lobby, i pull out my gym card, the staff scan it, and we walk down the hallway to the childcare center. sometimes bina walks distractedly and it feels like an eternity from the entrance to the doors of the play area. but yesterday she pranced all the way there. bouncy feet, bobbing head wearing her big goofy paw patrol hat with the blue pom pon on top moving to the dance of her little body down the hall. i walk behind her and just smiled to myself. oh god, thank you for this little burst of joy. this sweet girl you have entrusted to me. how grateful i am for the privilege of being her mommy, for the beauty of this mundane act of walking down the hallway with her. other gym-goers walk past us going the opposite direction and i notice one woman looks at her and smiles and it makes me smile even more. thank you god for the smile my little girl brought to that woman's face. thank you that we can share the joy of our beautiful mundane. the little things can bring the most joy.
this morning after breakfast i open the dishwasher to unload it. i grab the silverware basket and begin placing each piece where it goes in our silverware drawer. i was going to complete this task of unloading rather quickly so i could reload and move on. but bina had her eye on all the dishes and decided she was going to help mommy this morning. she proceeds to lift one of the brightly colored fiesta bowls from the dishwasher and proudly presents it to me. "i helpin'!" yes, bina, you helpin'. she hands me each bowl and salad plate, one at a time, for me to put away. she picks up each bowl from the opposite direction i would have and has some trouble wrestling them out of the rack. but she does not give up! bina just keeps pulling those pesky bowls this way and that until the rack releases them. once all the dishes are put away, we move on to the top rack. she labels each cup "daddy's!" or "mommy's!" or "meena's!" (she calls herself meena these days). i love how eager she is to help. god, thank you for this sweet little helper that finds such joy in something so mundane as handing mommy a bowl or cup from the dishwasher to put away. the little things can bring the most joy.
i pick out bina's outfit this morning before we leave for bible study. i lay it out on the bed in the master bedroom. bella had hopped up on the bed and laid claim to her sleep spot when we first came upstairs to get ready. i remove bina's paw patrol pajamas and put on her white socks and pink leggings. before i have the chance to put on her top, she rolls over and crawls to where bella is on the bed.
and this conversation ensues:
bina: bew boo is so cute. bew boo wuv me!
bella: [grumbles under the incessant affection from tiny human]
bina: it's ok, bew boo.
i grab her dress and walk around the bed to where she is loving on her beloved bella boo. i lift the billowy fabric over her head and pull it down with her helping to stick her arms through the arm holes. i remind her that we're going to bible study this morning.
she turns to bella and says: bew boo miss me! then, cue a somewhat gibberish monologue of her assuring bella that she will be back and daddy is coming home. before we leave for bible study, she chases after jake to give him a hug and a kiss goodbye. oh my sweet, sweet bina girl. i love her gentle spirit and empathy, her big love for her dogs. the little things can bring the most joy.
i love the look on her face when i pick her up from childcare. after bible study is over i walk up to the children's wing and open the door to her classroom. i peek inside and she sees me. she stops what she is doing, breaks into a smile, and prances toward me. "mommy!" she's always happy to see me after we've been separated, even if just for a short time. god, thank you for the joy of this sweet girl when she sees her mommy. thank you for allowing me to be her mommy. the little things can bring the most joy.
this afternoon bina requested her "eye sticker" (which is what we call her eye patch) and peppa pig. i'm trying to scale back on her tv time while wearing her patch. she doesn't like that very much. i suggest we get out her play doh and play with it at the dining table. bina is amenable to that idea and quickly hops over to the cabinet that holds the goods, exclaiming that the play doh is in there. you're right, bina, the play doh IS in there! i unlock the cabinet and retrieve the bag of play doh and the bag of tools to play with it. i ask bina if she wants to carry them and she of course grabs one bag in each hand and trots over to the table to get setup to play. i ask her which color she wants first. "purple!" she declares. i also pull out the blue. she's got her face of concentration on and goes to town with the little drill tool.
at one point she wants me to use the press to press out different shapes. she labels the different shapes "daddy!" or "mommy!" and when she is done playing, she wants to smash the play doh back into the containers herself, which she does. how i love this little girl and her concentration when playing with play doh. her joy exclaiming, "i did it!" when she drills a piece just right. god, thank you for play doh. the little things can bring the most joy.
of course, not all of the moments are sweet. she is almost three, after all. currently she is having a complete meltdown because i wont allow her to nurse before she has lunch. oh my dear girl. god help us both. we're going to make it.
i was at book club last friday and we got on a tangent about schooling and how suicide is the leading cause of death for middle schoolers now. it used to be motor vehicle accidents. there have been several instances of closed districts and lock downs in the schools in our area after this latest school shooting in florida. how stressful to be a child worried about your safety at school on top of the pressures of succeeding academically and otherwise. i thought again about kindergarten and how it used to be half day and now it is full day. preschool is recommended to prepare children to adjust to all day kindergarten. we expect so much from humans so little. all these things have my head spinning and have led me to invest more time in researching homeschooling.
i spent some time looking up how to get started and learned there are actually many different approaches. i ordered some books, one that follows fifteen different families and how homeschooling looks in each of their homes. i found my copy of the whole-brain child and began reading that as i wait for my other books to arrive. i patted myself on the back reading the introduction to the book and realizing that i'm already doing some of the things it suggests, strategies i learned in counseling to apply to myself that i extend to my parenting and also echoed in other books i've read as well as a parenting workshop we attended the summer of 2016. it's always encouraging to realize i'm already on the right track, i can just pick up some more tools on my way to enrich and refine the experience. this particular paragraph of the introduction spoke to me:
"...the parent's own growth and development, or lack of those, impact the child's brain. as parents become more aware and emotionally healthy, their children reap the rewards and move toward health as well. that means that integrating and cultivating you own brain is one of the most loving and generous gifts you can give to your children." (p. xii)
hooray for all the hard work of going through emotionally healthy woman and emotionally healthy spirituality last year, and delving into the enneagram this year. david and i both are learning so much and growing in self-awareness, researching strategies for whole-hearted living and parenting that are different than the ones we grew up with. it's hard work, but it's good work. and we hope it will lead to transformation in our own little family, benefiting our children and their future spouses and children.
it's a messy journey, this whole life and adulting and parenthood game. but it's a beautiful one, in the midst of all the mess. and when we feel weighed down by all the things, we do well to remember that the little things can bring the most joy. open your eyes to the beauty of the mundane every day. there is joy there if we only pause and choose to see it.