As I studied third world development and international relations in my undergraduate studies (at Wellesley College near Boston) and went on to study what education is and what more it could be with my Masters (at Harvard University), I figured out a whole lot of seemingly brilliant solutions to many vital issues.
But somehow I never quite got in the position to implement my ideas. I did some cool things – worked in orphanages in Eastern Europe while serving a mission for my church there, did a little humanitarian work in Kenya and Bolivia, ran volunteer-promotion efforts nationwide for The Points of Light Foundation, set up programs in needy schools and ran training programs for educators….
…then I started having kids.
Because my fertility clock was ticking when I finally found “Mr. Right,” we started our family quickly, the kids came in quick succession, and thanks to a surprise set of twins, I had five kids in just five years.
I loved my kids dearly and was grateful that my deeply-held dream of having a family had come true. But mothering didn’t come as naturally to me as it does to some. The photo below shows a peek at how difficult those few years were.
As I took care of my family, I saw my personal need to be involved in the larger world drift further and further away. I crammed bits and pieces of work for various worthy causes (part-time training and consulting for non-profits, service work for my church, helped a non-profit serving orphanages in Bulgaria get off the ground) in between naps and diaper changes and story time. But mostly my life consisted of doing rather mundane and often unpleasant things for lots of noisy messy wonderful people with many mutually exclusive needs.
One day I read a quote by Mother Teresa’s that stuck with me: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
Motherhood is perhaps the greatest example of a long, long string of small things that, done with great love and extra thought, can have ripple effects that go on for generations. Big things are MADE out of little things.
I came to realize that maybe my “cause,” my purpose in life, was right under my nose. Perhaps mothering my own kids, helping make the schools in my own community better, being a good neighbor and friend, learning from and helping the other mothers around me, and blogging about it all was a much “grander” cause than any other I could pursue.
While it’s true that my kids are informed about world issues and pray each night for the orphans in Bulgaria that we do a fund raiser for each Christmas, I hope my kids also are learning something it took me a whole lot of years to figure out: Doing little things to better the world immediately around you and helping with the things you’re already PART OF is vital and beautiful – and often more personally satisfying than trying to impact big groups and sweeping causes.
Taking treats to a lonely neighbor is just as important as sending money to a lonely orphan. Offering friendship to a left-out kid at school is just as important as giving food to a hungry child in Africa. Volunteering in my own kids’ classroom is just as important as changing education systems.
AND… Helping bright, motivated moms find each other and share what they know is just as important as helping non-profits pool their resources and learn from each other – so that’s why I spend so much time working on this website with one of my best friends, April Perry.
The micro matters a LOT. The macro doesn’t happen without the micro. It really is the little things that count.
You and I can change the world, by changing our world…
One person, one mother, one family at a time.
Starting right here with you and me.
Photos by Saren Loosli