an adventurer’s guide to embracing the mundane

Motherhood is another planet.

But when we go there, we expect it to somehow feel like earth.

Let me explain, my life is ordinary in every. single. way.

I cook, I clean, I take care of kids. I volunteer at church, I sneak out for date nights and relish opportunities for wine, yoga pants and good books (Jen Hatmaker!).

This is it: I’m just a lady in the grind that is universally known as raising children.

I’m also an adventurer at heart, an idealist and a dreamer to my core.

Though externally my life is ordinary, it doesn’t feel that way to me.

Here’s my theory on why:

My heart’s in it.

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It’s that simple plus one more thing:

It isn’t always supposed to be easy.

Yup, that about sums it up.

Take it or leave it, It’s the best wisdom I have.

I am aware of the special creative power we share as women, which is somehow amplified by motherhood in astronomical ways. We experience it every day without even noticing it, like how we drive over the Mighty Mississippi without a second glance or forget to look up at the moon when it’s full and gloriously red.

It’s the secret-to-life superpower I wish every woman appreciated about herself.

It’s the most powerful, simple, invisible thing in the world:

A heart full of love.

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Coupled with a willingness to make choices based on that love no matter what, we are mountain-climbing pioneers through a vast expanse of possibility and richness of meaning in our own outdated kitchen, playing catch with our boys, scrambling eggs or making pumpkin muffins.

We can transform long hours of rocking babies into learning the art of being deeply present with another human.

We can turn a ho-hum job into a soulful chance to financially give our kids opportunities we never had.

We can make a soul-hard choice to pursue our dreams and trust another to care for our precious littles, helping others along the way.

We can make magical heart-connections out of mundane moments, which echo into eternity through our children’s memories.

We pour our love like coffee for the world, second guessing ourselves all the while, as if caffeine isn’t the life-blood of champions.

We are beautiful, whether we know it or not.

This has been a process for me.

As a younger mom, the mundane caught me off guard. The drudgery of dishes and diapers. The impossibility (for me anyway) of accomplishing much else was hard, not to mention all the emotional triggers. My belief that all things are possible collided with my own experience of personal limitations.

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As I sought to unconditionally love others (especially my precious boys), I was disappointed in myself and left a door to my heart open to allow other people’s critiques to pour in like lava.

Thankfully as I sought meaning in my experiences, I began to see parallels in the spiritual advice to grow mindfulness through the ordinary practice of chopping wood and carrying water with my role as a mother. I translated it into “chop celery, carry toddler” and just kept moving, looking for gold in the minutia.

The work of motherhood is hard – and boring – and repetitive.

But in my experience, the rewards can only be described as Divine.

The views of sweet boys loving on each other, the sounds of their giggles, the sights of them doing everything for the first time. Chubby cheeked “I wub oos” have magic potential in them to lift a mother’s spirits to a place she’s never dreamed of.

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Recently, I took my boys to the park we frequented from the time my husband and I were first married until our middle child was 8 months old (he’s 6 now).

Seeing all three of them together on that familiar bridge, a whoosh-of-perspective moment snuck up on me. I got very emotional, and every inch of me was filled with the lightest, most beautiful feeling of love and realization of what life is all about. The natural beauty of treetops glistening, sunrise, stars and every beautiful thing I’d experienced at that park combined with precious memories of my family to create this blissful internal shift.

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I re-lived peaceful hand-holding walks with my husband before kids came along, early morning starshine with our dog Sam (I took him before work to channel his infinite puppy energy), the way he sprinted around the baseball diamond leash-free.

I remembered chubby-cheeked baby Joshua’s first ride on a swing in that goofy beret Grandma brought him from France and the sweet madness of chasing his toddler self, while snuggling sweaty newborn Dylan to my chest in a Byorn. I remember how he wanted to run ahead on the bike path and how hard it was to keep up, I simultaneously fretted over his safety and reveled in his life force energy.

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It’s amazing how an ordinary place like a park can inspire such an un-stealable treasure trove in my soul. Words can’t describe the beauty of this simplicity, inexplicably relived with grace.

Believe me, It didn’t always feel so magical.

During those years of long walks and park visits with the kids, we buried loved ones, processed frightening diagnoses and struggled through adult problems galore (I sigh deeply just thinking about some of them). I questioned my worth and capability, I grieved relationships I thought I’d always have and who I thought I was.

I certainly didn’t hold that mystical whoosh perspective every day, though I tried . I just did my best, showed up, poured my heart and soul into my family out of love, the best I could.

But here now, at the bridge with some distance, something filled me with a realization so simple and perfect it was like I knew it all along, cleansing the memories, swhooshing them around in my consciousness with ethereal grace.

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When I felt hurt, worried and confused, I was enough. When I was over-the-moon fawning over my littles, holding my hubby’s hand, enjoying a beautiful simple life, in spite of everything I “should” have done better, I was enough.

I was doing my best, I was operating primarily out of love, I was enough then. I’m enough now; I have always been enough.

It was a beautiful revelation, such a gift.

I want to pass the pricelessness of it on to you.

I want to remind you that even while you are hurriedly chopping peanut butter sandwiches and carrying a bag of little-league gear, you are not the ordinary woman you think you are. You never were.

You are what you’ve always wanted – in exhausted wrapping paper, maybe – But you, with Your Big Mamabear Heart, are the very best kind of present anyone could ever give, be or receive.

Someday I hope you’ll look back on today’s challenges as the wild river of grace that contoured your soul with an endlessly deep ravine of more love than you could have ever held without them.

You’ll remember the way your child’s eyes danced with light as a beautiful land you are glad you spent so much time in.

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You will be filled with precious memories of the adventure of motherhood that you never knew you were having all along.

How do you make meaning out of the mundane aspects of motherhood? We’re all in this together!

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