Small, But Valuable

“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.

Image by Nutdani Apikhomboonwaroot /



  1. Mireille Koester says

    Submitted on 7-13-2010 at 06:40am

    Jennifer, you write beautifully. I’d love to read more. Where can I find your blog?

  2. Melanie Vilburn says

    Submitted on 7-4-2010 at 10:08pm

    One of my favorite quotes is by Abraham Lincoln. He said, “There is no one who’s poor who had a godly mother.”

    A godly mother. Hmmm, what is that? I imagine a godly mother is someone who has incredible confidence, the kind that doesn’t need praise from the rest of the world to validate who she is and what she’s doing. I imagine her as someone very calm and kind through it all. She ought to be a silly goose too. As an incredible article here described so well, she is home WITH her kids, not just at home.

    I imagine part of our “exit interview” in heaven will be questions such as, “So, who did your laundry, cooking, and dishes? Who played with your children? Who supported and sustained your husband? Who were you the biggest fan of and giggled with most?

    These attributes, to me, define what a godly mother is. The lack there of, true poverty.

    Small, But Valuable

  3. Miken says

    Submitted on 7-3-2010 at 11:03pm

    Well said! Thank you so much for sharing. It’s moms like us who make all the difference in the world! You rock!

  4. Kristi says

    Submitted on 1-9-2008 at 12:36pm

    This was very sweet! I love “You’ve Got Mail” and that quote especially!
    being a stay-at-home Mother is one of the most important and valuable things you could be doing!!! The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand the rules the world.
    Mothers are the most influential people on earth and raising your son is the most important thing you could be doing… and you love it! Yay! What could be better?
    I enjoyed reading your post.

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