Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bigger Picture Moments: In With the Sweetness

I will admit that I did not crawl out of the right side of the bed today.  Instead, it was the we'll be bored and irritable today side of the bed.  The keeping the girls busy without making messes because we need to sell the house side.  And maybe a little bit of when can I do something just for ME? side of the bed. 

Part of it is me feeling inadequate: it seems like the girls are arguing more than ever, leaving me to wonder.  How do I fix this?  Or at least not make it worse?  How much bickering should be allowed, versus how quickly I step in and cry uncle? 

Another part is my reaction to my energy-filled four-year-old.  Lauren is wild this summer, blooming into a big girl but still using little girl tactics, and it's not bringing out the best in me.  I'm losing my temper daily, which will only pave the way towards losing my temper hourly.  I don't want this.

I don't want to be angry with their learning how to be or with Lauren's exuberance, but when it's directed at an overwhelmed brother or used (loudly) when I'm trying to rock that brother to sleep... I just get so frustrated.  And the whining...and the hurt feelings...

So I woke up dreading the new day.

When Lauren came into the kitchen before breakfast, I kissed the top of her head, breathing in her sleepy scent.  In with the sweetness, out with yesterday's frustrations.  She stood at the back door, looking up at the bird feeder and to the shrubs beyond.  I tensed, waiting for her demand.  I'm hungry!  I need a drink!  What can we do today?  I knew what I would do; I would encourage her to think for herself.  I would remind her that she's capable.  I would smile and trust.  But still, I was tense.

Instead, she kept silent.  She squinted into the bright sky and unlocked the door.  Stealthily, she tiptoed onto the patio, crunching bare feet over discarded sunflower seed hulls.  The birds flapped away from the feeder noisily, disturbed.  I waited for her irritation; I thought the birds were what she wanted to get close to. 

She stepped to the shrub, lifted her arm, and plucked a flower.  It fell to the ground.  Again, I expected irritation.  Again, she kept moving.  She squatted down with her nightgown brushing the concrete, and smiled when she reached her treasure.  She stood and lifted it to her nose.  She came back inside the door, closed it, and locked it.

And handed the flower to me. 

I was ashamed of myself.  If each moment has the capacity to be something special -- either in a grand, spectacular way, or in a mundane, plodding way -- and I ruin it with horrible expectations, what is left?  I held Lauren's hand to my lips, kissing her generosity and innocence, and whispered a new incantation: in with the sweetness, out with the expectations.

The flower sits on the windowsill above my sink.  Admonishing with an open face.  Guiding with a bright smile.  Showing me what to see, serene in its observation.

We're seeing the Bigger Picture through simple moments -- moments that force us to stop and take notice of the ways our worlds are important, meaningful, and beautiful. Please join us at Melissa's place today! Grab the button, link up, and read a few others to encourage them as they find the fullness in the simple


  1. Managing expectations....sigh... I'll start by saying that this is a lovely piece - I'm drawn right into both the feelings and the moment with you. And I remember having to talk myself through so many moments/days of frustration with my little ones...I think what helped me most was to think of myself and remind myself that most of my moments aren't stellar... Often there's an inner dialogue that I wouldn't want anyone else to see, and my emotions take me over, and I get tired and cranky...etc. It would help me to remember that they're just like me/I'm just like them. All human, messy and unpredictable....with a few moments of brilliance thrown into the mix!

  2. Oh Sarah, I needed this so badly. We're living the same life (except I have no baby) and my four year old is trying old tactics and wearing on my old frayed nerves. My new motto is really going to be "In with the sweetness, out with the expectations" because my day to day life holds so much expectation.

    This resonated so much that I started to cry. Both your bigger picture and Emily's bigger picture have left me feeling so close but so far away from your mothering hearts because I understand exactly what you mean.


  3. Oh I woke up like this early this week: when can I do something just for ME? side of the bed.

    Four is's been the hardest age in both my kids. Harder with my girl because she is so strong willed and not at all like her brother. Dropping those expectations, trying to start each day new, those are lessons I need to repeat again and again and again....

  4. I'm taking this in today, Sarah, as I await the test results from the MRI ... breathing out the expectations of anything unworthy of my time and attention ... and breathing in the sweetness, knowing that He's the giver of good gifts. The flower is beautiful, Sarah, and so is this perspective and writing.

  5. I can only imagine how stressful it must be to have three kids and a house to keep clean and sell, especially right at the beginning of the summer. Don't be too hard on yourself for feeling stress and frustration, but oh goodness: the sweetness! That flower! What a dear, little Lauren!

  6. Reading this reminds me of a maxim that goes something like "We can't control our thoughts and feelings. We can only determine how we respond to them." You MAY have been prepped and ready for a certain kind of battle, but that you could put aside your expectations and see her just as she was and respond with loving kindness I think speaks volumes for you. I know quite a few people who would have just kept plodding on, stuck in how they were determined to see things and what they were determined to feel and to say - to less savory results.

    I had a bad-side-of-the-bed day yesterday too. Hopefully it will turn around nicely for us for the weekend!

  7. Oh, friend, like Emily said, I know it must be rough right now balancing the kiddos and the stresses of having a house on the market (been there -- NOT fun.) You know what I like so much about you as a parent? That you don't throw in the towel and decide that for now, it'll just be ugly. You keep moving past a bad moment or a bad day to see the beauty and love around you... and deciding to add to it.


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?