Eighteen years ago, I stopped working to stay home with my children. At the time, I had an almost one year old and a new born and working simply to break even with day care seemed ridiculous. Of course, when child number three came on the scene seventeen months later, I was locked-in with stay-at-home parenting. As the girls got older, we made the decision to home school. And that’s my life in a nut shell for the last twenty years. Sure, tons of other things happened, but when I look back over it what stands out is showing up to raise and educate my ladies. All day, every day for a very long time. It’s been a worthy couple decades for sure.
I say all that to share this, I’m no stranger to the occasional tedium of simply showing up. For me it was the daily routine of young children and then the daily routine of school. Day after day, week after week… Maybe for you it’s something different, but we all have seasons where it seems like showing up is all we do and nothing ever changes.
I feel like that today sitting down to write more words. Yes, more words. I am not sure how many words I’ve tapped out over the last ninety-two days. 50,000? 75,000? Many, many words. I show up and I sit down and I tap, tap, tap. But days like today it seems like a whole lot of effort for very little result. Truthfully, speaking, I’d rather be watching Gilmore Girls.
But here I am, showing up again. Same effort, new endeavor.
It’s not easy the little mundane things we all have to do every day. It’s easy to believe we’re the only ones caught up in the mundane repetition of what it takes to build a life, a family, a career, a legacy. Everyone on social media is posting the highlight reel; television and Hollywood constantly promote the dream of miraculous discovery followed by instant fame and fortune. Meanwhile, I’m doing good if I have on clean shorts and a clean shirt on the same day.
Can I get an amen?
We’ve packed a thousand lunches, washed ten thousand plates and matched (or shoved in a drawer) at least a million socks. I can fold a fitted sheet neatly in under forty seconds, but there’s not an audience for that on America’s Got Talent. I’d throw in the towel, but I’d just be the one that has to pick it up again.
Sometimes it just seems like we ought to have moved on to something more important, more glamorous, more rewarding by now, am I right?
I may not have fame and fortune to show for these weeks turned decades of showing up, faithfully, day after day. But I have gained a little bit of insight now that I’ve finally stuck around long enough to look back. What I realize now is there is great power and deep beauty hidden within the bland facade of the day-to-day grind. I see it in the forms and faces of my children, near grown.
Oh, I say, breathlessly, when catch them in the corner of my eye. Oh, there is a masterpiece. I didn’t see it until just now.
Even though those moments are fleeting, the weight of them adds magnitude to my soul. This is the moment, even if no one else sees it, this is the one.
But we have to be watching, waiting, expectant, because for most of us, glimpses and glimmers of glory are all the fame we are destined to receive. We have to open to receiving the unexpected holy moment right in the middle of scraping the egg pan and punching the time card and tap, tap, tapping the words on the screen.
We have to be ready, and we make ourselves ready by showing up. By doing the next thing. By not checking out even though binge watching Gilmore Girls sounds so much more appealing. (Even if you sometimes binge watch Gilmore Girls instead of showing up, it’s ok. Show up tomorrow. )
There’s power in showing up. There’s depth and beauty and hope and encouragement in the midst of those who don’t lose sight of what matters in search of something more exciting and renowned. These little things, the mundane, loving, self-sacrificial things can shape a home, a neighborhood, a city, a culture…the world.
If we just keep showing up, we can do anything.