“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing”
The mundane moments in parenthood have something extraordinary to teach us.
I’ve learned the most about life not from any individual, book, class or lecture. I learned the most powerful lessons from the sandbox.
Time spent in our backyard sandbox with my two toddler boys gave me an inkling of what life is like when you dive fully in: being completely absorbed in the moment, playing in the sand, being fully present with my boys.
But these lessons did not come to me easily.
As parents, our days are filled with plenty of unsexy and seemingly never-ending moments of changing poopy diapers, wiping snotty noses and cleaning up spills on the carpet. In a culture that values success with things like quick growth, new shiny objects, bigger, better, more … parenting does not fit this definition at all.
As I started to pay attention and look for little ways to be amazed, I was often hit with the fact that most of our lives are what we would label as normal, average, even mundane. Then I developed the “95 percent” theory. Maybe 95 percent (my unscientific, yet seemingly accurate measurement) of our lives are filled with the normal, everyday, average moments. The place where we spend most of cooking dinner, brushing your kid’s teeth or doing the dishes.
Which brings me to Einstein and his view on life: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” I’m assuming Albert was the latter. Seriously Albert? But how?
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Did Albert ever change a BLOW OUT diaper and think that was a miracle? There are times in our lives when amazing, magical and beautiful things happen. We can see the miracle. But how do we begin to see EVERYTHING as a miracle when crappy stuff happens (pun intended), and we have butts to wipe and bills to pay?
And it’s generally at home, our most underappreciated sacred space. Think about what would happen if we could transform our mundane moments into miracles, like our friend Albert suggested. Ok, maybe not miracles. But what if we could change our mind-set, our perception, our approach just a bit? Maybe these moments could offer us the opportunity to lean into life, be present and find the beauty.
The mundane moments are the brilliant yet humble teacher, our own personal Mr. Miyagi, and we get to be the Karate Kid. And they have a lot to teach us. In fact, they offer us a new gift to unwrap every moment.
I’m slowly realizing the moments that I label as day-to-day, mundane or ordinary can hold greater power than I ever thought possible. I am trying to wake up for more of them, for their lessons and opportunity for growth.
So here is what my “Mr. Miyagi Mundane Moments” have taught me:
Parenting Practice: Using the Mundane Moments
1. You need to show up right NOW to learn the rest of the lessons
You can only discover what life is offering you in this very moment if you stop to look around. Mundane moments teach us to be present in the moment without judgment. We quickly realize we are only dealing with the here and now instead of yesterday or tomorrow or even five minutes ago. These day-to-day moments are what shape us as parents and ultimately shape our kids. After all, children are observing our actions and reactions whether we like it or not.
But here’s the best part: If we mess up, we have the next moment to get it right. 95 percent of our lives could be transformed into something better, starting this second. Or this one. Or right NOW.
2. Mundane moments teach us that it’s about finding the significance and sacredness in the simple things
It’s the best remedy to a world that is fast-paced, distraction-filled and yelling at you to find happiness in every external way possible. Instead of waiting for the next big, exciting thing to happen in our lives, we can find contentment, inner peace and joy in these simple things when we look with appreciation.
3. These mundane moments are not always glamorous, fun, exciting or easy
Most days it’s the complete opposite. But they are powerful. They can transform us only if we show up for them. Life will become richer moving at this slower pace. More intentional. We are less likely to want to fast-forward to something different or better down the road. If the chaos and craziness are the screaming of parenthood, then the mundane moments are the whisper. Both can be our teacher if we are open for it.
4. Whatever we focus on grows
If you focus on gratitude, beauty and love, you will find more of this — being able to reflect on and share these little glimpses of something more. Prayer, reflection, journaling, gratitude lists … all powerful ways to grow the good things within our lives.
5. Mundane moments are actually sacred moments in disguise
As we slowly begin to see (and label) the mundane moments as sacred moments, we transform from being on autopilot to living a life of meaning, love, connection and joy. And these are the qualities worth passing on to our children.
Maybe this is the miracle Albert was referring to.
Photo by Dana Wisniewski.