Blessed are the Mothers of the earth, for they have combined the practical and the spiritual into a workable way of human life. They have darned little stockings, mended little dresses, washed little faces, and have pointed little eyes to the stars, and little souls to eternal things.    -William L. Stinger

On Mother’s Day we honor mothers, grandmas, aunts, guardians—and all who care and nourish and love the world’s children in a mother-like capacity.) Bless you, all, for it is an awesome privilege and responsibility. I wrote the poem and story included in today’s Slice of Life in 1999 when my own rapidly-growing triplets made me keenly aware that I needed to appreciate each moment—to figure out what to do and what to leave undone.

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“I didn’t get anything done today!” I lamented to my husband after tucking the kids in. “I still have stuff on my to-do list from four days ago!”

I’m a listmaker. I get a sense of accomplishment as I cross off each daily task from my “important” list.  I also find that if I don’t make lists, I forget to do some of the most basic things, like pay a bill or buy milk and eggs. 

Every book I’ve ever read on organizing encourages list-making–and that’s good advice. But most of the magical moments of mothering take place between the tasks we seek to scratch off our to-do lists.  Things that we don’t put on our list, but that bless our lives, or the lives of those we love, in ways we could never predict. Things like:

Making a batch of salt-dough for bored toddlers on a rainy day.

Listening to your teenager’s account of her “miserable day at school.”

Making “people sandwiches” with the couch cushions.

Going outside to look for robins on an unseasonably warm March day.

Wrapping our loved one up in a bath towel, warm from the dryer.

It can be easy to get discouraged if we measure our daily accomplishments by how many items got crossed off The List. Perhaps we’d be wise to keep a separate list of all the things we accomplished that weren’t on the original list. This list is likely the one that would point us to everyday glimpses of grace and joy!

Time Well Spent: A Poem for Mother’s Day

Are you a mother?  Do you ever wonder if you accomplish much each day

When you see the floor that didn’t get mopped, or the laundry still not put away?

If you sometimes feel discouraged, I’ve a few questions to ask of you

Perhaps it’s time to take a look at all the things you do.

Did you fold a paper airplane? Did you wash a sticky face?

Did you help your child pick up toys and put them in their place?

Did you pull a wagon, push a swing, or build a blanket tent?

If so, let me tell you that your day was quite well spent.

Did you turn the TV off and send the children out to play?

And then watch them from the window as you prayed about their day?

When they tracked mud on your kitchen floor, did you try hard not to scold?

Did you snuggle close as prayers were said and bedtime stories told?

Did you wipe away a tear? Did you pat a little head?

Did you kiss a  tender cheek as you tucked your child in bed?

Did you thank God for your blessings, for your children, heaven-sent

Then rest assured, dear mother, your time was quite well spent.

Did you make them brush their teeth today? Did you comb tangles from her hair?

Did you tell them they should do what’s right, ‘though life’s not always fair?

Did you quiz her on her spelling words, as you tried hard not to yawn?

Did you marvel at how tall he is, and wonder where the childhood has gone?

Did buy another gallon of milk? Was that broccoli that you cooked?

Did you straighten your son’s tie and say how handsome he looked?

Did you hold your tearful daughter when her teenage heart was broken?

Did you help her find some peace of mind, although few words were spoken?

Did help him choose a college and get the applications sent?

Did you feel a little wistful at how quickly the years went?

Did you help her pack a suitcase, and try hard not to cry?

Did you smile and smooth her hair as you hugged her goodbye?

Do you hold them in your prayers although your arms must let them go?

Do you tell them that you love them so that they’ll always know?

To make a home where love abides is a great accomplishment

And to serve God as a mother is to live a life well spent.

        ©1999 Cheryl Kirking

New parents heading home from the hospital, 1991. How little we knew of what really mattered!
We soon learned it usually wasn’t on The List.
Van trips usually included at least one grumpy kid. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad!

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