It's a wall, cries Zoe. Don't knock it down!
Why a wall, I ask.
We are building it, she says, in the all-knowing logic of a three year old.
But what is your game, Zo?
The game is the wall, Mommy.
My life feels unordered right now. Again I find myself in a season of transition, and while one of my choosing, I feel unsteady and unsettled. What do I do now that I'm home? Staying at home doesn't feel enough. I should be running a side business, working on my writing, teaching part-time, running an at-home daycare, going back to school, working towards something.
I've never sat still easily. What's the plan? What's next? I love to know. I want to know.
But I don't, and I can't, and in this season I will sit. I will wait. I will find the joy in the small things, in my small ones. I will watch and pray. I will learn rather than teach. I may find that the game is the wall. The building of small lives is the plan, is the work. And as long as this season lasts, I will search for grace.
Nathaniel and I have been married for six years. And the longer we're married, the more I'm convinced that what causes marriages to suffer is the little things. The pastor that did our marriage counseling told us this time and time again. Marriage, he said, isn't 50/50. It's 100/100. If you try to make all things are equal, then you'll start keeping score. Then you'll start trying to make sure that what you do is matched by what they do. No, he told us, it won't work unless you both give 100%.
Nathaniel and I had a good long talk on Sunday, sitting on the porch swing in the unseasonable January sunshine.
Something that we started a few years ago that has made a big difference in our marriage is the Sunday check-up. We put the kids down for their nap and then we take a break. We go over what is on the schedule for that week, who needs to do what and who needs to go where, and once that is done, we just talk.
Our talk this Sunday centered around what we want the ideal of our life to be and what it actually is. My morning ideal (ideal, mind you) is everyone waking up happily, and then we traipse (yes, we traipse) into the kitchen to make pancakes from scratch. Breakfast is calm and orderly. Then, Nathaniel and I sip our hot coffee while the children run along and happily play together. We have wonderful adult conversation and laugh at each other's jokes. It's all very nice. The actuality of our mornings is cranky children that wake up very, very early with sheets that need to be changed because a diaper leaked, breakfast is cold cereal (with whatever is at the bottom of the boxes because I need to go grocery shopping) that then gets spilled on the floor. Cups of coffee have to be microwaved and then re-microwaved because there's no time to drink them in between cleaning up whatever the shrieking children spill. Attitudes are poor, all-around. The dog is licking the bottom of the high chair. Conversation consists mainly of questions to each other such as, "Why do we have two shrieking children?" No one is laughing at any jokes.
What I love about this quote from Mitch Albom is that life is made up of beautiful minutes. The hours and the days are often messy, or dreary, or just simply hard. But those beautiful minutes are what makes a life full and rich. The stage of life that Nathaniel and I are living is hard. Toddlers and babies take up so much energy. Teaching takes up energy. It never feels like we have enough minutes for anything.
Yet, in the middle of that not-so-ideal breakfast, we looked out the window at the bird feeder that Nathaniel had filled weeks ago. There at the feeder was a cardinal, with his partner waiting her turn on the fence.
A beautiful minute.
As we were getting ready for church, Zoe so sweetly helped get Eric's blanket and bottle ready for the car without asking.
A beautiful minute.
Everything in the sermon at church seemed to speak directly to what we were going through. Every song had a line that meant something.
A beautiful minute.
Mitch Albom gets it. Life isn't perfect, our marriage isn't perfect, but minutes can be. And those beautiful minutes are what makes life beautiful.