“Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life. Well, not small, but valuable. And sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around?”
Meg Ryan’s character says that in a moment of contemplation in the film You’ve Got Mail. I think we all feel that way about our lives at some point or other. Every day is predictable, each routine is rote, and we tend to do very little that is divergent from “the norm.” My life is like that. Small, but valuable. I wake up in the morning, take my 19 month-old son, Ian, to the bathroom, I shower, get dressed…we eat something, we play, clean up, play, and clean up some more. Ian takes naps and sometimes I do, too; we play outside, talk to the neighbors, play and clean up again, make dinner, watch television, read, talk with my husband. While the order of these activities may change, you can almost predict my day using a checklist.
The girls I grew up with are well into their careers by now–with multiple academic degrees, prestigious corporate positions, and their feet firmly planted on the fast-track to six-figure incomes and support staff of their very own. Conversely, here I am–also educated and well-equipped to meet hushed corporate and academic quotas for women and minorities–at home with my son and up to my elbows in antibacterial soap, scrambled eggs, sunblock and Dr. Seuss.
So why do I do it? Why do I choose to spend each day having my most important decision deal with what to make for dinner or how long to let Ian play outside before making him wear a hat? Why do I choose a life without 15-minute breaks, sick days, annual Christmas bonuses or assistants?
I do it because I love it. While my pay may not include a 401k plan or stock options, my life pays invaluable dividends. While some people may think my blogs are a self-indulgent means to parade my son’s accomplishments and adorable mug across the internet, my place as a wife and mother takes the front-seat in everything I do–so it’s inevitable that my role as mother also becomes my role as e-mother.
My life appears small. But it’s valuable. That makes it a big deal. And while it may not be a big deal to many people, it’s a big deal to me–and to my husband, and especially to Ian. My list of beneficiaries is limited, but I know that the influence of a mother is limitless. So I try to do the best I can–I’m not perfect. I slip up a lot. I lose my patience. I lose my keys, my cell phone, Ian’s sippy cups and my measuring spoons. My house is sometimes messy, and it often takes me a day and a sink full of dirty dishes to remember to empty the dishwasher. The laundry doesn’t always get folded, and there are days when I don’t shower until the afternoon–and more often than not, I need to sweep up Cheerios from the kitchen floor.
I also don’t think I’m all that unusual or remarkable.
So here’s to all of you “ordinary” people that live “ordinary” lives. There are lots of you in my life that I love and admire–because you deserve it.
Here’s to small, but valuable.
QUESTION: Are you able to remind yourself how valuable you really are?
CHALLENGE: Next time you start feeling like your life is “small,” remember the phrase “Small, but valuable,” and stop any negative thoughts from entering your mind.