I saw it, briefly, but I saw it over and over again. The big, overly-happy smile of a young mom at story time, and just above it a flicker of self-doubt in her eyes. A tiny tremble of “what on earth am I doing here?” that perhaps she hoped the other moms didn’t catch.
Have you ever been in a group of people and wondered just how many things are actually going on under the surface? Today I looked around at all the young moms at the library’s Tales for Two-year-olds and wondered: how many were bored to tears with Twinkle Twinkle and Old Macdonald for the 8-gazillionth time? How many beautiful hearts were doing battle with their culture-rattled brain—demanding to know how this could possibly make sense when the bills are piling up and the “check engine” light just came on and here they are Ringing Around the Rosy instead of sitting back in their cubicle? How many came only because they want to get out of the house or because they wanted to be able to say they did something worthy of getting dressed that day, or because 'they'—the experts in the books and on the blogs-- say storytime is good for kids’ social skills…and stuff. Whatever all that other stuff is.
Full disclosure: I've been all of those moms! Every. Single. One. When my first was a new toddler, I was already pregnant with her sister and could barely muster the strength to shower and drive the three miles to story time, let alone grin big and make twinkle-diamonds with my hands. The most exhausting thing was the voice in my head telling me what I was doing was a waste of my time. A woman I know later expressed it better—“Couldn’t I just pay someone to do all this mindless playing I spend all day doing?”
Outsource the mindlessness. It makes so much sense, doesn’t it?
But Mama, I am here to tell you… what you are doing is the opposite of mindless. It is something that, whether you intend it to, or not, will reap benefits for years and even decades to come.
As a mother who also has older ones now, I see every day so much benefit from the songs and stories and time together. Those words have set the foundation for language skills that have produced articulate kids who love to read and write on their own. The rhythm and music has lead to an interest in math games and logic and debate (not to mention my joy in hearing them sing, whether they are two or ten!). And, the most important, in my book: happy memories that lead to secure connections and emotional health, that mean when their world is shattered and they are devastated, they know they have a safe place.
Please hear me: what you do matters! This is not inconsequential work and it's not mindlessness! Our culture doesn’t celebrate the little moments that you will observe in the next few years—but I urge you to. Please realize that when a toddler knows what is coming in a song because they have sung it 15 times, they feel secure—accomplished! And that beaming smile says “I learned that and now I want to learn MORE!” When they practice jumping like popcorn, their brains and bodies start to work together and later those little popcorn legs will be able to jump way higher than you on the basketball court. And when you hold them in your lap and tell them to quietly listen to Five Little Monkeys, they register that soft, safe space, and know you are their home.
Mama, how you are spending your time with your children is worthy, so worthy. Whether it is at the library or not, time spent with them is the long, slow, brick-making and -laying process of setting the foundation for their life. Like a city skyscraper, these things below won’t be visible when they are older. But if we build that base with them now, they will be set securely to rise high above it. Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Keep that vision of your child in mind—one day they will be grown, and you are setting their foundation now that they may grow fully, later.
Today I urge you to fight back against the voices that tell you what you are doing with your babies doesn’t matter, whether they are in your own head or coming out of someone else’s mouth. Fight back and say, “This child is worthy of this, and so am I.” Fight back, and then rest, knowing that you and what you are doing, is good, and wise, and right.
I see you and I appreciate you.
Therefore be very careful how you live—not as unwise but as wise, taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Encouragement Spoken Here
"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." Proverbs 25:11