I woke up this morning to dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, bills on the counter waiting to be paid and puppy poop on the carpet. Not exactly the life of fairytales and movie scripts. And to make mundane matters even more routine, this morning looks a lot like yesterday and tomorrow isn’t promising to be much different.
It’s easy to feel the discouragement fester.
In fact I can get stuck here in the “whens” and “if onlys.” When this happens, then things will be better. If only this would change, then I’ll be happy. Fill in the “this” with any desired life change. When … he is sleeping through the night … potty trained … in school. If only … I were pregnant … got the promotion … had a bigger house. And in the middle of all of this I miss out on the one life God has given me. The good things that are already all around.
And I forget that I have some control over the details of my life. I may not be able to change those big “whens,” but I can change some small aspects that make today more manageable, dare I say, more enjoyable? I am not the victim of my life, though circumstances are often not what I’d wished for; rather I am a coauthor, walking alongside God, recognizing today is one I can’t get back, so I must make the most of it.
But how do I among the dirty dishes and the bills? Those realities are not going away. This is my actual life after all, with its actual circumstances. I’m not aiming to love that “when” life, but this one I’m waking up to.
I do the next small thing.
I play some music while I’m loading the dishwasher.
I close my laptop while my daughter is talking and focus on her face and her words.
I light candles on the dinner table.
I put on some perfume and jewelry.
These are not life altering decisions or steps here. They are small things that when accumulated make my moments feel special. Because what is life if not a series of moments that accumulate to hours and days and weeks? And they are every day decisions I get to make over and over again. Yesterday’s dishes don’t have to define today’s reality. Every morning offers a new beginning and that music can be turned up.
Loving my actual life is about beginning with what I have to work with today; focusing on what I can control and appreciating the gifts I’ve been given, rather than fixating on the things I wish would change.
As a mom to four girls, Alexandra Kuykendall’s days are spent washing dishes, driving to and from different schools and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma. She is the author of Loving My Actual Life, An Experiment In Relishing What’s Right In Front of Me andThe Artist’s Daughter, A Memoir. A city girl at heart, she makes her home in the shadow of downtown Denver. You can read more of Alex’s everyday thoughts and connect with her at AlexandraKuykendall.com.