I woke up earlier than usual this past Sunday, because my children were fighting and trying to shush each other loudly outside my door. I got up (begrudgingly) and sent them downstairs to watch TV, then sat down in the darkness of the morning, a steaming cup of coffee in hand and a fire in the fireplace. A couple minutes past seven I found an episode of Super Soul Sunday, where Madonna Badger was talking about how she has survived the death of her three daughters and parents in a fire on Christmas Day. I was near tears during most of it, because she was, and watched mostly because I had to, to somehow share her pain by listening to her speak. Do you ever feel like you are meant to watch or hear something, at exactly the moment you need it the most? Call it fate or something else entirely, but the universe lined up for me when I needed it most that morning.
It was a very powerful hour, this interview, but what touched me the most were two things. First, she spoke about how she wishes she hadn’t cared as much about the little things, like worrying over organic food choices and stressing over schedules, and been more present. Which I think is something that is really hard for her now that her children are gone. She finds herself stuck behind a school bus, or walking by a park with children, and mourning what was, and what isn’t anymore. Simple moments that most of us take for granted. I think most of us moms, myself included, do a lot of things daily that escape us because they haven’t been taken away from us. And thankfully so. It’s an honor to have our children yell out, “Mom!”, because there are mothers out there that cannot hear that anymore. Most of the time this fact escapes me, but I need reminders every now and then. Especially in the thick of it, when being a mother feels anything but a blessing.
The second thing that struck me at just the right time was at the end of the show. Oprah showed something called a “breathing space moment,” where she showed a very quiet scene of butterflies flying, and asked us to think about Madonna and her children, and be mindful. I watched this, feeling very peaceful and settled, until inevitably I heard my children fighting and yelling from the other room. Normally this would annoy me to no end. Here I am, trying to sit still and have some breathing space, darn it, and my kids have to fight NOW? I mean, where is my peaceful breathing moment?!
Except I got it. I am blessed to have this very ordinary moment, to have children that can annoy me and interrupt my breathing space. Because they are MY breathing space. I can wake up too early and cook them breakfast, and worry about what to do with them on a rainy Sunday. I can make them clean their rooms, and pack their backpacks for school, and plan fun little holiday events.
I’m not saying that each moment of my life or yours needs to come from a place of thankfulness, because that isn’t possible. Life is messy and annoying and full of small and tedious tasks meant to drive us nuts. I’m just saying, sometimes on our worst days when we are thinking of all of the things that burden us about life and motherhood, think of those that have lost it all. There are always those that suffer more, have more problems and setbacks than us, and it’s better to come from a place of saying “thank you,”
Say thank you for the opportunity to have a car that breaks down (because you have one and can afford to fix it), or children that fight (because having them fight means they are alive and healthy), or a husband that annoys you (because he comes home safe at night after flying all night doing all sorts of dangerous things.)
There is always a worse case scenario, and sometimes we just need to be happy that we aren’t there.