It’s been 3 years since I promised myself I’d start writing. Not with any particular goal in mind except to document my journey. As I sit in church for the Easter Vigil Mass, 30 minutes early, I’m enjoying the quiet. But want to reflect on all these thoughts in my head before the moment passes. The Easter message is so powerful. Regardless of the beliefs surrounding it, the power is there. The idea of rebirth. Starting again. A chance to renew and have a fresh start. I have made a habit of giving something up for Lent, but also taking on a new challenge; learning to live without while also learning what more I have to give. The result is always the same: I am capable of change. And I have much work to do yet. I hope that as the year goes on, as well as in years to come, that I will continue to make more progress. As a Catholic and as a human. The spirit of Easter does not have to end.
There is this video going around that’s gone viral. It’s a commercial for a position entitled, “worlds toughest job” at a fake company. However, the interviews are real. The interviewer tells interviewees things like, You’ll be standing all day. There are no breaks, sometimes not even to eat. Not only will you not be paid but you will have many out of pocket expenses. The interviewees respond by questioning the legality of the job and indicate that no one in their right mind would accept the position. Then it is revealed that it is actually the job of (spoiler alert!) a mother. The interviewees share their reaction, saying they never realized how much their moms did for them and how the interview makes them more appreciative.
I understand the sentiment of this, and how we often lose our appreciation for the things our mothers do now and what they did when we were babies and children. As a mother of two children, my issue is the idea that there is no compensation and that it’s crazy to choose to take on the job. Motherhood is by no means easy. As I write this from my office, taking a break from paperwork and leisurely sipping a latte, my husband took the day off work to be home with our two children because it’s a day for which their school is closed, but it is not considered a holiday for our jobs. One of our children is sick. My husband is also sick. And our daughter is just starting to walk, needing constant supervision to avoid pulling chairs over on herself or finding choking hazards that we always seem to miss. Clearly it’s not just motherhood that is hard. But my husband and I don’t need monetary compensation to know that our jobs as parents are more rewarded and have more benefits than the highest paid position in the world. The instant gratification of our 4 year old taking breaks from playing to tell us he loves us, or our daughter saying “hi” (one of 3 words she can say) and giving us hugs. Seeing them learn things we taught them. Hearing our son repeat everything we say….yes, even the things we didn’t realize he heard. And looking for our approval when he tells a story, draws a picture, or reads a new word. Middle of the night snuggles as our son finds his way into our bed every night and our daughter cries for no reason other than to be held just a few minutes before going back to sleep. The way they love each other. These are all their ways of showing us love. And we are rewarded immediately and constantly. The warmth that I feel from their small daily gestures easily outweighs money, luxuries, or power. How would anyone not want this job?
It’s that time of year again! When I am reminded of why I became Catholic. Easter Vigil 5 years ago, the day after I learned I was having a baby boy, I was baptized and confirmed. Because of the commitment I made that year I spend Lent every year re-evaluating my decision and what it means to me.
During my RCIA class the teacher encouraged us to consider doing something rather than giving something up. I loved the idea. How often do we give something up that we needed to give up anyway, but don’t have the willpower to do on our own? Like chocolate or caffeine. In a time where we’re so rushed and often complain about needing more time, I’ve found great value in adjusting my priorities to be able to do something extra every day. I guess I could say if I’m giving something up, it would be my precious time. Just a few minutes of each day.
This year I’m writing a thank you card to someone every day. The originator of the daily thank you card ended up extending it to a year. So far I’m really enjoying writing the cards and hope the recipients enjoy the simple handwritten cards. I know it isn’t much, but I like being able to write a “Thank you” for things that I really do appreciate but don’t take the time to express my thanks. Some days it’s hard to think of something special to give thanks about, but once I start thinking about it it’s hard to choose just one. There are so many people day to day who do kind things without realizing the positive effect those things have. Usually those things go unnoticed or maybe get a quick “thanks”. But spending the time writing out exactly why what they did meant so much helps me to be even more appreciative of those small things and I’m realizing that it makes me more conscious of how I treat people. Things that I do without thinking can have a huge effect on others, both positive and negative. So I’m learning to be more aware and deliberate in my actions and words. I can’t say that I’ll end up writing cards every day, but I can say I will likely continue practicing awareness. Which, in my opinion, is a better lesson learned and a better use of sacrifice than going 40 days without Starbucks.