You know how sometimes (a lot of the time) we see things on Facebook and instagram and Pinterest about how hard it is to raise a family, how hard it is to juggle life with kids, how hard it is to be a mom? Because there’s no denying the truth of those statements. It’s challenging, and often we struggle to find the joy in the sometimes mundane but exhausting life of motherhood.
But guess what. I’m not here to talk about that today. Today I’m here to talk about the joy.
My husband has a very (very!) demanding work schedule. As a result of his loooong hours, we put in place a family rule that we do not make commitments on Sundays. Sunday is family day. No work, no play dates, no birthday parties. If it’s not a family event, we don’t do it. It helps us stay sane and we know that at the end of a very busy week, we get one special day before the new week is upon us. As a result, Sundays are usually my favourite days.
We try to go on a walk every Sunday afternoon, often to explore a new place, but sometimes to an old favourite. This is often the best part of my entire week. No cares, just walking, talking, running, playing.
Last Sunday we went on a walk that I used to take with my Mom when I was little. It’s right beside the home that I grew up in. This place holds so many memories for me, of long talks with my momma, bike races with my siblings, frog hunting in the summer, trudging home soaking wet from the lake for dinner. So I brought my children there on Sunday, not for their first or last time.
It was beautiful and orange and crisp. The thing is, there was nothing particularly extraordinary about this walk. Just an ordinary family, out and about on a fall afternoon. Nothing very different from every other Sunday walk. No epiphanies, no profound moments or realizations. I was just walking along slowly, watching my children be children. Watching them run along the stream and play with sticks. Hiding behind trees and avoiding slugs. Collecting maple leaves and jumping over puddles. And it was magical.
We didn’t have anywhere to be, no schedules or plans. I could just relax and enjoy the perfection that is being a child. Being a family. Forget them behaving perfectly or worrying about getting dirty. Never mind that they were making up ridiculous jokes and stories. In that moment, I embraced the crazy that is my boys. I watched as they held on to each other, running through the trees.
Families are crazy. Moms are crazy. Dads are crazy. Children are especially crazy. Exactly why we feel like we might lose our mind sometimes. But you know, what if we spent a little more time embracing the crazy? Embrace the mom life for what it is. Love your children for their silly, unique quirks, not in spite of them.
Find a beautiful park. Find a body of water. Find a place with meaning. Go there, and go there often. When you feel like you don’t have time to breathe, make the time and go there. Take a break from the demands, the schedules, the clock. Because that’s how we find joy. Not through life changing moments and epiphanies and dramatic events, but through small, happy moments. Through walks in the park. Through playing in the leaves together. Through bedtime stories. Through “I love you”‘s and giggles and jokes and snuggles and hugs and tickles. Mugs of hot chocolate and notes on a pillow. Through small and simple everyday acts of love. Those wonderful, small things lead to great joy. And really (really!) that’s what it’s all about.