"We fool ourselves if we believe that life is the tedium of our to-do lists broken up by occasional highs, like a baby's homecoming, and occasional lows, like that baby's first terrifying trip to the emergency room. Everyday life is utterly extravagant. It is morning glories we did not plant. It is four children we did nothing to deserve. It is moonlight and starlight, rainbow-colored leaves and autumn rain. It is the shelter of trees, the songs of birds, and the enduring sight of a farmhouse on a hill. It is more beautiful than it needs to be. It is more meaningful than we can begin to comprehend."
-Roots and Sky
When you dream all your life of being a mom and that dream then becomes a reality, you of course expect the big life-changing moments to be the ones that stand out the most. The moments that really bring it to your awareness that you really did get everything you had always hoped for. Those big moments like the first picture of your baby on that ultrasound monitor, the positive pregnancy test, the day of birth and the first moment you put your eyes on your little one. And when I think back on those moments for me - they are indeed the memories that will never be lost. Our first ultrasound image of Jaden on the monitor in Iowa City - 12 weeks along - Cody and my mom standing by my bed, tears unexpectedly streaming down my cheeks. A perfect black and white profile shot of my very tiny little babe. Watching Jaden hold his baby brother Brandon for the first time with just the four of us around to witness it - and my little old camera there to snap the shot that still sits in a frame in Brandon's room today. I do absolutely remember our first trip to the ER with Jaden and Brandon's outpatient surgery in Iowa City. There's also the first walks around the block in our double stroller, the baptisms and the first days of school. Brandon's preschool graduation ceremony and all the holidays marked with family pictures of the four of us and two ever-growing boys. The big moments - the big milestones - that will forever be etched in my mind and on my heart.
But what I'm discovering lately is that it's more often the small, unexpected moments that make me pause. That sometimes take my breath away, bring a small tear to my eye or stop me dead in my tracks as I take in the magnitude of the life I'm living these days. And it's these moments that I want to make sure I hold on to. The moments that if not written about, or talked about, or reflected on, might get lost over the course of this life - during these years of raising kids under our roof. In the midst of these days that may seem mundane and routine and unimportant or insignificant. As we hustle between work and school and sports and activities and try to build in time for fun and leisure and family. It's these surprisingly beautiful moments that I want to ensure I take with me through times of stress or exhaustion or uncertainty. Because these are the moments we build a life on.
And just like I can vividly remember how it felt to hold them for the first time or how exciting it was to watch Jaden score his first touchdown or cute Brandon looked when he took his first steps, there are other images that I can look back on with just as clear of a memory - if not more so. Small random moments that remind me in such a deep, personal and private way - that these are my people. That these are my answered prayers staring right back at me. That they were made for me and I for them.
Moments like last fall - when we were running late from work and trying to get Jaden to football practice - along with all of the practice gear the entire team would need - that just happened to be in the back of our van because Cody was the coach. I can remember parking the car at the practice field, rushing Jaden to tie his cleats, to get his mouth guard out of the car, telling Brandon to bring his water with him to the playground, and carrying this heavy and awkward shaped bag of football flags, footballs, water bottles, cones. Players and parents were showing up - just waiting on my husband to get there to run practice for everyone. I was impatient with my kids, frazzled from a crazy work day. And as I sat that bag of practice gear down at my feet in the middle of the field, it hit me like a ton of bricks. This is it - everything I ever wanted. I'm living it. A small, stressful, insignificant moment when a sentiment of deep gratitude washed over me like a tidal wave.
Or like all those routine summer nights when I tuck them in bed after an evening at the swimming pool. Sun-kissed skin, a fragrance of sunblock permeating their bedrooms, and four little eyes that can't stay open. I'll forever remember the faint smell of chlorine in their hair and on their pillows as their heads hit their sheets and I shut the bedroom doors quietly behind me.
Or just earlier this week when I looked out the kitchen window to find a group of boys sitting on our deck steps with my kiddos. They would later ask for snacks and drinks, and I said a whispered prayer of gratitude right then and there. It's sometimes hectic and they sometimes drive me crazy and there's definitely nights when I just crave the quiet at the end of the day. But that moment - my kids and their friends and all the loud noises they all make together - a lifelong dream realized.
Small moments, big feelings. What it's like cleaning their sticky fingers after roasting s'mores, how Jaden always gets a chocolate ring around his mouth when eating ice cream, how Brandon always wakes up with the craziest case of bed-head and how he scrunches up his face when trying to put his baseball glove on. How sweet they look when bowing their heads in prayer. These are the details that leave permanent marks.
Last Sunday. When Cody was tired and I was bracing myself for the work week ahead but the weather was too nice to waste. And we loaded the van with balls and bats and gloves and spent an afternoon at the park. And I stood there watching my three boys all play basketball and baseball together and told myself - remember this. This is everything.
I don't ever want to feel that the day-to-day and in-between stuff is insignificant. I don't ever want to take it for granted. Because we are busy and life is big and uncertain and they are eight and six and they can read without much help and they can get their own snacks out of the cupboards and they can play at the neighbor's house without me until supper time and they can shower on their own and they score touchdowns and take tests and do dives into the deep-end and one of them calls me Mom now instead of Mommy and we took their training wheels off their bikes. And these are the days. And I thank God for the moments when I can feel Him telling me to pause and take notice. I thank Him for His whispers.
"Take it all in. Soak it all up. This is what you build a life on. This is what you take with you. This is what they will take with them. This is significant. This all matters."