What matters most in life

by Mary Ann on July 29, 2011


fogged windows picture

Our Soup fog windows

The windows are fog covered from soup steam and the air smells of baking bread. It is cold outside on this wintery Montana day. I hear the children clattering through the gate and up the back steps, coming home from school. “Don’t bang the screen door”.

The kitchen is filled with bodies, wet coats, boots, mittens strewn about. “You guys pick up those coats and hang them up. Put your mittens away.”

What in the world made me think of this most ordinary moment in my past with such an ache? It was the shower. That is where I think, random thoughts about what I need to do, what the day was like, the book I am reading; just random thoughts in the quiet of the late night hours. But tonight I had this thought; this memory and it pierced my heart fiercely. How could such an ordinary memory cause such emotion? Why would I even remember it.

vintage photo of small girl sleeping

The miraculous ordinariness of everyday moments with children

It is because it wasn’t ordinary, it was miraculous. That is how the moments of our day with our children really are, they are miraculous. We rarely perceive it as so because we are busy taking care of the business at hand. We just don’t see the beauty.

Forty years ago I was twenty one, a new mother starting out. If I live to be one hundred and I think I will, I will live another forty years. Since that day so long ago how many more ordinary, miraculous days have I missed seeing. Was today miraculous? In forty years will I remember it with such happiness and nostalgia as the memory I had today? Have I learned what matters most in life?

That is how it is. We move through life taking care of business. We worry too much. We hug too little, smile not enough and push away joy that we could have. We get confused about what matters most.

johnsons family picture

Remembering our everyday moments bring the most joy

I have replayed the memory over in my mind a number of times since the shower. It brings me joy and warmth. Maybe that is the state of man, blindness to the magic of the ordinary days and moments. That was the message of Thornton Wilders play “Our Town”; that we miss so much. That we need to look at people, really look at them, really see them.

We should forget about the screen door, the boots and gloves and gather our precious children up and smell their wetness, kiss their cheeks and just be so glad they are home …and ours!


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

tricia July 30, 2011 at 8:25 pm

I loved this post. Lately we have been watching family videos and it seems a life time ago that ALL of my children were wee little ones. Makes me sad they grow up. I have 9 at home right now but it seems only a few compared to just a few short years ago!!


Mary Ann August 1, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Hi Tricia,

You are wonderful and make me laugh. Isn’t it amazing how 1 is overwhelm for some, seven was pushing the limit for me and then there is you with twelve. It really is all in our perception isn’t it. They do grow up way too fast. When I was young older women would say don’t get so fussed, it all passes quickly. Just enjoy it. I thought they were crackers and now here I am echoing those words of wisdom. Enjoy it is truly the way to go. Laugh more, find fault less, praise more, hug more, say thank you more….


Jenny Johnson August 1, 2011 at 7:17 pm

I am crying. My heart is as big as a hot-air balloon. My mother has the ability to pull at my heart strings with her words. Your writing is initiating the same memories in my mind. I am saturated with gratitude that I experienced those moments of my childhood with this precious family. And I am so grateful that you kept the smell of food thick in our home. You say that picture of the child sleeping (posted above) is me, but I am sure it is Andrew!


Mary Ann August 1, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Really, I am the mom and I know it is you. you had a cute pixie cut and it is you! : )


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