I was sitting with four new kindergarten kids on the rug on the first day of school. They were all making marble tracks. Sunny haired Bram looked into my eyes and said, “Hmm. You know what is interesting?” Of course, I said, “What?” His eyes telling me before his words, “I really thought Kindergarten would be boring. But it isn’t. It is pretty fun! ” he exclaimed. He smiled widely and got back to his contraption.
As noted in a previous post, I am reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It is a book about the writing process, but it is also about life. Here’s a neat paragraph I read this week that made me take a big ol’ deep breath in and let it all out.
“It helps to resign as the controller of your fate. All that energy we expend to keep things running right is not what’s keeping things running right. We’re bugs struggling in the river, brightly visible to the trout below. With that fact in mind, people like me make up all these rules to give us the illusion that we are in charge. I need to say to myself, they’re not needed, hon. Just take in the buggy pleasures. Be kind to the others, grab the fleck of riverweed, notice how beautifully your bug legs scull.” ~Anne Lamott
*The sketch above is by Kalen. He sketched it using iPad’s Penultimate. After telling him about this quote, that is what he drew for me.
Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” – Anne Lamott
This excerpt from above comes from the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I picked this book up as my interest in writing has increased. I have found so much inspiration as I have turned the pages of this practical, honest and humorous look into the dull realities of writing and the writing life. She offers doable suggestions on how to beat writer’s block, tackle a daunting project that seems too lofty, and find inspiration. All of these suggestions are wrapped in humor and a rawness that I find really appealing. Surprisingly, I have found this book to not only encourage me in my writing aspirations, but also to be rich with life lessons.
Back to the quote. I have thought of this “bird by bird” analogy when it comes to the daily ins and outs of parenting and managing this home. When I am in the thick of parenting, Lord knows I need to chill out and focus just on the now instead of the eighty-seven other things that I need to be tackling also.
How many times a day do you get dazed and overwhelmed with the tasks at hand? Maybe you will find this helpful to tuck away in your mind as you go about your day. There are many moments that come and go throughout our week that just get us frazzled and fixed on how hard it all is. It is helpful to indeed take it one thing at a time, bird by bird, and do our best.
Even though I try to tackle many things at once daily, Lamott’s quote from her dad puts things into perspective.
One meal at a time.
Bird by bird.
One tantrum at a time.
Bird by bird.
One email at a time.
Bird by bird.
One diaper change at a time.
Bird by bird.
One laundry basket at a time.
Bird by bird.
Savor the now.
Just take it one moment, one hour, one day at a time.
This Little Light of Mine is a song that I used to sing as a child at my church. I have always loved it and have enjoyed singing it with our kids throughout the years. It has been fun to teach it to our foster children and watch them raise their little pointer fingers as they sing along.
Our family went to a candlelight service at our church on Christmas Eve. The picture above captures a sweet moment when the entire congregation was holding their lit candles. I enjoyed watching our children hold their candles. Staring at the reflecting light on their faces made me think of the song This Little Light of Mine.
It can be difficult to be a light throughout daily tasks, moods, and disturbances. Sometimes as a wife and mama to six kids and a dog I feel completely burned out. Just now, I sit here with a tooth problem that won’t soon be fixed, and when it is it won’t be cheap. It is definitely clouding my world, causing my patience to be low and consuming my every other thought. And yet, when I think of that moment when our precious children sat in that pew on Saturday night and allowed their candles to shine brightly in our dark sanctuary, I feel a nudge to pick my chin up and at least try to smile.
When our foster baby girl sings This Little Light of Mine with me, she puts her finger in the air and closes her eyes and puts her chin up as she smiles wildly. I can’t help but giggle, grin and be filled with joy.
There will always be people and tragedies in our lives that will dim our lights. When my light is not shining very brightly, I think about our foster daughter. Despite the early childhood trauma she has experienced, she still shines so brightly.
Reconciliation begins not first with others but with ourselves: by allowing Jesus to clean us — to forgive us, to love us.
– Mother Teresa