This is for the Day


This-is-for-the-day4This is for when the day has been a bit long and your patience has been a bit short. When you find yourself saying things like Don’t Make Me Come Down There and Stop Touching Each Other and Because I Said So, That’s Why.

It’s for when you forgot to eat breakfast and so you ate the crusts of peanut butter toast left over. It’s for when you are in the time between being finished with writing your first book and the actual release of it, and you are pretty sure everyone will hate it, in fact, you kind of hate it now, too.

It’s for when you miss sleeping in and staying out. It’s for when you wonder what your life is for, exactly. It’s for wanting to run away to live in a library in Paris, eating nothing but bread and cheese and apples for the rest of your life, washed down with wine; maybe you’ll get a few chickens, but you’re out of coffee.

It’s for when you stay up too late just because you are so happy to have a quiet house. It’s for another night of grilled cheese and tomato soup for supper. It’s for the days when you are not so much “balancing” motherhood and work and life and family as you are juggling it all like flaming torches.

It’s for unfolded laundry and unrealised dreams.  

This is for the days when you aren’t so much soaring like an eagle as you are plodding one foot in front of the other like a tired workhorse. This is for the days when it’s less grand and epic story and more of a “long obedience in the same direction” like Eugene Peterson said.

This is for the daily and holy unappreciated work. This is for what Madeline L’Engle called “the tired thirties.”

So here is the thing: open all the windows, even though it’s raining again. Let the air sweep through the house and into your lungs. Put a hat on the baby, just in case she’s too cold, maybe some little baby socks too, even though they’ll just get pulled off. And then turn on the music. Turn it on loud. I know you’re planning on putting on some moody singer-songwriter or maybe some new hymns, but when your tinies ask for something fast and fun, say yes.

And then dance with them.

Dance. Dance. Dance. Twist your hips and waggle your bum, raise your hands above your head and swing those wide hips wild. Listen to your children laugh, sweep the baby into your arms and spin in circles. Lead a parade around the kitchen, singing at the top of your lungs. Dance until your thighs ache and you break a sweat, until your son’s smile is so big, you can see his molars.

Sing loud. Laugh because everyone is so off-key. Play air guitar on top of the coffee table. When they holler “Watch me, mama!” your eyes will already be there, memorizing the moment. When the man on the iPod sings that he wants more, baby, you’ll know just what he means, you want more.

Soon you’ll finish off the dance party. They never last too long. Maybe that is what makes them special. Close the windows and carry on. Change a diaper. Send someone to the naughty spot for a time out. Go get your groceries together, like you had planned, you’re out of milk again. Maybe nothing changed. Maybe everything changed.

And then when Whitney Houston starts to sing that she wants to dance with somebody through the tinny intercom at the grocery store, this is what will happen. You’ll be pushing the gigantic germy cart, with the baby riding shotgun, and the tinies trailing behind, dejected over yet another “no, you may not have that,” and your hips will start to move, and you’ll catch their eye.

Their faces will light up and when you let go of the cart and start to spin and dance in the middle of the diaper aisle, oooooohhhhh, I wanna dance with somebody! they’ll start to spin and dance too, without question or thought or self-conscious checking. You’ll all sing and dance, like a bunch of idiots, and you won’t care who sees you.

There is an appropriate time to plod along, an appropriate time to get the work done. And then there is an appropriate time for dancing and soaring and spinning. You need both.

For just a moment, you caught the wind and it feels like you’re right where you were always meant to be. And it will be too much joy, all of a sudden. Life is full to the brim with all of the times you’ve had and the times yet to come. And you won’t be able to catch your breath for all the gratitude and sadness and happiness and longing and satisfaction and exhaustion colliding in the grocery store.