‘Before falling into sleep, remember the ordinary moments of the day, the moments your children meant something to you. This vision of your kids, it helps restore the prominence of ‘who they are ’ over ‘what they need to do’ or ‘what they need to work on’. Let the images rise to the surface of your day.’ (Simplicity Parenting)
We have the weirdest Dvd called Wow that’s what I call Nursery Rhymes, featuring Dave Benson Phillips ( for all you 90’s kids he presented Get Your Own Back!) and some other girl called Katie….My kids seriously love it! I cannot for the life of me work out why, but all three of them will sit with heads bobbing along, occasionally jumping up to do some actions or crazy dance. I’m telling you, it is beyond corny but they are captivated. As I set the table for dinner I caught a little glimpse of them all, sitting in a wee row just loving life, hanging out with Dave Benson Phillips and his big orange blow up chairs. I suppose there isn’t much they all enjoy in equal amounts at the exact same time these days. But in that little ordinary moment their hearts seemed so full and they looked so tight and content. And I walked back into the kitchen a little lighter than before.
We were getting ready to walk up to school, faffing around with coats and bags and shoes. Then in came Noah, all ready to go….with a big rubber ring on round his little waist. ‘Oh Noah’ I said, ‘Why you wearing that?’ He looked at me like I was an idiot and declared, ‘It’s for if we get flooded. I’ll be okay with this on Mummy.’ Autumn fell about laughing and I said ‘Right well, that’s good news isn’t it wee man….’
I’d been a bit tense that morning, just the wrong side of bed sort of stuff. But I ask you, how can you stress out when there are rubber ring wearing flood protection safety officers around? How can you not grab whoever is closest for a great big bear hug?
Noah, Autumn and I sat in the Dentist’s waiting room and he had bravely said ‘I’ll go first!’ but as we were ushered into the treatment room Noah saw the reclining grey chair, he inhaled the funny smell and clapped eyes on the large tray of tools, then announced, ‘Em you go first, Mummy’
‘We’ll just do a quick x-ray, Mum’ said the dentist. She made me bite down on this weird black plastic contraption and then said ‘Come on outside kids, just for a second’. They followed her out giggling but then my daughter stopped in the doorway, looked back and said ‘You okay, Mummy?’
I couldn’t really speak with the big thing in my mouth so I said ‘uh huh’ as best I could and gave her a thumbs up. It was only a few seconds but I could see she was a little unsure why they were on one side of the door and I was on the other. I could sense her need to make sure I was happy with proceedings. I felt loved and cared for.
‘Here you go, Poppy’ he said quietly as he broke off the end of his Kit-Kat and passed it to his baby sister. She looked at him, mystified and crazy-eyed at this chocolate treasure being passed in her direction. And then a quiet whisper ‘Ta Ta’.
She held onto that piece of Kit-Kat for about twenty minutes, carrying it round the floor, her precious chocolate smush. I stood silently folding a mountain of tumbled clothes as quickly as I could, smoothing out wrinkles to save any ironing (yes I am one of those people who do everything in their power to resist ironing).
He’s giving her his kit-kat! I thought to myself. He’s quietly sharing! It was enough to undo the crazy nonsense from all the other days. It was a little quiet moment that was enough to reassure me – Love exists in our house! Kindness is alive and well! We are doing okay!
She sat perched up on the window ledge watching her tv show The Dengineers (there were seats but I am over it). Her hair was up high in a ponytail, scruffy curls and messy in the most natural and beautiful way. She still had her dance class clothes on, her black t-shirt and comfy jogging bottoms and little Converse boots. She had the sleeves of her t-shirt rolled up just a little. I pretended I was watching her tv show too, but really I was just watching my daughter and thinking all of the thoughts.
How has she got so grown up?
What is it that makes her heart so beautiful?
How can I see her as a baby and a teenager and a child all at once?
What if she starts staying in her room all the time?
What if I embarrass her?
Am I being a good mum to her?
And so I just stared at her. I made big eyes at my husband to look at her too. And he knows it. He sees it. Our daughter is growing up every single day and in that little fleeting moment there was a mix of pride and sadness and amazement and worry and fear and beauty that made my eyes water and my heart burst.
My dad called round to have dinner with us (although that is misleading because we were ordering a giant feast from the chippy). He was messing about with Autumn and announced he had a pound for her piggy bank! He took a while to find it, searching in all his pockets and the little back pack he carries. ‘Don’t worry Granda’ she said, ‘It’s alright if you can’t find it. I don’t mind.’ My dad is 75 years old and I could tell he was a bit annoyed he had lost it. ‘Sorry Autumn, I just don’t know where it’s gone. I thought I put it in my pocket…..’ There was a bit of a lull and then, great news – the pound was found! My dad looked truly relieved and delighted and then Autumn said, ‘Oh thanks very much Granda. This is great’ and I knew she really meant it.
There is nothing overly significant about these stories and images. You will have many more. But when I stop and slow down long enough to allow a few special ordinary images to rise to the surface I feel rich in the stuff that really matters. I feel like everything I hold dear is in line with everything I believe in. I feel sure that the simple ordinary moments are quite simply hope on a plate- because in the midst of the chaos and the mess I experience true kindness, compassion, authentic love and care. I see holy hope and power offered and exchanged between cheerful little souls and worn out, stressed out adults.
I suppose the gift of small ordinary moments is nothing new, but maybe it just seems harder to cultivate it in our culture of rush and distraction. I like the idea of hearts full of experiences but it just seem less likely when my hands are so full of stuff and my calendar is so full of appointments. Maybe big belly laughs aren’t noticed as much above the sounds of tweets or texts or email notifications or indeed our blaring tv. Maybe the joys found in the daily process just get lost in a whoosh of hurry trying to reach the end goal.
But when I let those ordinary moments rise then the pressure to be perfect just falls away. I feel a sense of freedom returning and it allows me to see the hearts and minds of those around me, in all of their beauty and wonder.
When I let the ordinary moments rise then the expectation for bigger and better lessens and I delight in just who my people are as they are, rather than anxiously manipulating for more.
When I let the ordinary moments rise it heightens my awareness of what really matters and so the simple act of sharing the grubby end of a kit-kat has the ability to stop me in my tracks.
This lingering around ordinary moments is not time wasted, it is holy work. It reminds me I hold the Kingdom in my tomato soup and pancake covered hands. Which is of course, extraordinary.
And so I will keep letting them rise.