Today I saw a woman performing a miracle. She sat with her two year old son at a little umbrella-shaded table outside Café Main waiting for their lunch to come out. It was a sunny day, refreshingly crisp and beautiful. Both Mom and Little Man sat there in the shade of the umbrella, passersby strolling past intermittently. Her little guy wore a long-sleeved t-shirt that said “Crazy Hair Don’t Care” and his mop of curls was adorably wild. I sat just inside the cafe, on the other side of the window, and glanced out. And that’s when I saw it: a mundane miracle was happening right before my very eyes.
This is what I saw: that mom, complete with aviator sunglasses and rosy cheeks, was energetically singing and doing the hand motions for “Pat-A-Cake” with her little guy.
Pat-A-Cake, you guys. That silly old nursery rhyme that parents and grandparents have been singing with their littles since the 17th century. It’s frivolous and ridiculous and played out.
Both Mom and her curly-haired cutie looked completely delighted to be singing it together. Mom had a big, splendid smile lighting up her face and Little Man watched her intently, trying to mimic her movements, enchanted by the whole performance.
And this is what hit me in that moment: what these two souls were doing is what really matters in life. It’s simple, really. Ordinary. Seemingly inconsequential. It’s just a mom entertaining a toddler so that he doesn’t lose his mind while he waits for his lunch to arrive. As a matter of fact, this exact moment will likely never be remembered by either of them. It is one of those “just normal life moments” that get forgotten as soon as they are over.
Motherhood is filled with moments like these. I’ve had countless of them myself over the past several years. Moments where nothing monumental is happening, nothing life-shattering is in play, nothing especially memorable is going on, moments when all you are doing is keeping your kid alive and clean and quiet for a couple more minutes. And yet … in the long run… it is all these types of moments strung together that make up a meaningful and happy life. It is all these moments stacked on top of each other which build trust and communicate love to a young child.
As I sat there drinking my tea in the bustling cafe, I couldn’t help but glance back out at the Pat-a-Cake Mom and her son again. The entire interaction between the two of them was just so… normal. Yet completely, soul-stirringly astounding at the same time.
With Pat-A-Cake complete, Mom chatted on the phone a few minutes, tickling her son’s tummy and making him giggle throughout her conversation. As soon as she hung up, their food arrived and, in typical toddler fashion, he promptly dropped his sandwich on the ground and Mom swiftly picked it up, inspected it, and put it back in front of him to eat. She picked away at his fries with him and pointed out interesting things for the two of them to chat about. Though it was clear that she sometimes got lost in thought, her mind elsewhere, for the most part she was engaged with him. Present.
She finished up her sandwich, glanced at her phone real quick, then looked over at her little guy: his eyes were now glazed over, his blinks were getting slower, and then, little by little, his right arm moved towards his face and he stuck his plump little thumb in his mouth. A moment later, he leaned forward, rested his elbows on the table and slumped down, melting into the table with his head resting on his arm, eyes closed.
With a grin, Mom started packing up their things. She held up his almost-completely whole sandwich and then glanced toward the cafe entrance. In a minute, she peeked her head inside the cafe, made eye contact with me, and I asked her if she was looking for a to-go box. She said yes. Apparently that little cutie only ate a bite or two of his entire sandwich. So while he sat peacefully outside, resting at their table, I had a chance to tell Mom what a blessing it was to watch the two of them be silly together earlier. I encouraged her and affirmed to her how important and foundational those types of mundane, “normal life moments” are. I told her she was doing such a great job. She lit up and stood a little taller, thanking me. And then, because no worker was available to help her get the needed to-go box, I walked to the other side of the restaurant and snagged one for her so that she wouldn’t have to leave her snoozing little treasure all alone outside.
Just a normal, nothing special kind of day.
And yet… I can’t help but think of how amazing this world would become if there were more normal, “nothing special kind of moments” like these strung together across humanity. Just a mom being sweet and playful with her kids. Just a stranger offering to help out. Just a gentleman opening the door for the next customer entering the store. Just a smile and nod to an elderly woman sitting on a park bench. Just a “Thank you for protecting and serving our community” to a local police officer. Just a quick text to a long-lost friend to remind her that you still think about her fondly. Just a simple prayer for your mom’s husband when you remember that he hasn’t been feeling well lately. Just an “I love your hair!” to the teenager rocking a bob cut with blue tips. Just a firm handshake and a respectful “Thank you” to the scruffy-bearded man wearing a “Vietnam Veteran” baseball hat. Just a phone call to your out-of-state grandma to ask her how she’s doing. Just a quiet snuggle with the family dog who you know won’t likely make it to Christmas this year. Just a kiss on the forehead of your sleeping toddler before you hit the sack yourself. Just a Welcome Home Hug for your honey as he or she walks through the door at the end of another long day at work.
There is nothing amazing about any one of these moments. They are just “normal life moments.”
And yet— miracles happen in moments like that. Miracles ARE moments like that. Simple, beautiful, world-changing, mundane miracles.
And mommas? And daddies? You are stringing together millions of these mundane miracles every single day for your kids.
Keep up the good work, y’all.
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What about you?
Do you ever struggle with feeling like what you do isn’t “big enough”? What can you do (maybe even today?) to really slow down and be present for some of your own mundane-but-miraculous moments in life?
Please share your journey in the comment section below.