Your Story Has Become Tiresome
Surprising beauty and comfort stems from appreciating - and getting curious about - the mundane.
Growing up, my dad would often say, apropos of nothing, “your story has become tiresome.” A vital piece of context: I talked nonstop and my “story” did, indeed, get quite tiresome at times. In school, my only sin was loquaciousness and it landed me at the time-out table more often than the kids who blew snot bubbles and spit at people. I’d talk so much I’d run out of breath and gasp for air. I talked to strangers. I talked to my beanie babies. I talked to myself.
Then I married a man whose lung capacity matches mine, and we had children.
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You’ve probably caught on by now: the Davis house isn't exactly a quiet one.
When our oldest turned three, our easy baby suddenly became a toddler with a lot to say. A lot of…strong opinions, opinions he sprinkles like pepper throughout every transition and activity in our days. He also asks a lot of questions. Like, "what is color" or “why do they call it a nose?” questions, the ones that are quite literally impossible to answer unless you’re gifted at breaking down ontological principles for toddlers. Sometimes, I absolutely blanch to admit, I start to tune him out a little.
Three years in, is this the kind of mom I’ve become? One who tunes out her kids?
Lately, I’ve replaced this intense self-judgment with something that feels a bit more like a heaping dose of grace. I no longer purse my lips in disapproval at the mom who mmm-hmms her kids while sneaking a peek at her phone (gasp!) in the Target checkout line while babies pull on her sleeves. Pre-kids me would’ve clutched my actual pearls over this. Now, I Hunger Games salute her while pulling my hair into a mom-bun and loading fruit pouches onto the conveyor belt. Lord knows this brief escape into a digital world may be the single thread connecting her to sanity, the one thing that keeps her from bellowing kiddo, your story’s becoming tiresome.
But as much as I understand this, and I, too, have felt the aggressive desire for five minutes where someone hasn't just repeated the same sentence for the 97th time, I really, truly, want my boys to know I am listening.
In a recent podcast interview, one of my favorite authors, Shauna Niequist, shared the best parenting advice she’d ever received: be delighted by what's delighting your kids.
I’d never thought of this, and certainly would not have considered it parenting “advice.” But, hard as it is to delight in excavators and ceiling fans, this tiny offering has pushed me to pause. To lift my head from my phone and the other myriad devices that guarantee that escapism, distraction, and another dopamine hit are just one swipe away - those devices that make life so convenient yet have, tragically, dulled my senses and deadened me to the little zings of authentic joy found in the most mundane. It’s pushed me to fight to delight in the ordinary. It’s forced me to match my kids’ curiosity with my own, rather than swat it away like a pesky fly. And it’s encouraged me to wonder, right along with them, about why cars still make noise when the engine’s turned off, why worms don’t have legs, why some leaves stay red when they fall from the trees while others shrivel and turn brown.
It’s actually a little refreshing to roll around in questions that, honestly, may not have simple answers, or any at all. Sometimes it's worth stepping out of my world and into theirs, a place where wonder is still alive and permitted to romp around the mind, where “Google” is still just a silly word, and where the IV-drip of information and data and pat answers has not yet pierced their veil of curiosity.
Maybe stepping into this world will spark something new, something creatively inspiring. Maybe their delight will change me, as long as I’m willing to get a bit curious, too.
Do you struggle to notice and/or appreciate the mundane? Do you find yourself “checking out” often?
Are there any narratives that you consistently find yourself tuning out or checking out of? Are there certain moments you generally tend to reach for your phone? Are there certain times of day you feel your patience and attentiveness start to wane? Pay attention to your patterns of energy and attention without judgment: just curiosity.
Is there anyone in your life who inspires you to notice? What do they do, specifically, that inspires you?
Do you want to get better at noticing, at sitting with thoughts and questions, at grounding yourself in the present? What is one small step you can take to do this?
My invitation to you: Take a walk, ideally, without your phone (so long as you are close to home and safe!) and pay attention to what you notice: that house tucked behind trees you never knew was there? The birds' nest in the crook of a fence you’ve passed 100 times? The fire-engine red tree at the intersection? Fight the temptation to whip out your phone to document it and instead, see what it feels like to simply notice it.
A Few Recipes
The chili recipe that caused me to forsake all other chilis
The Bread & Wine inspired cheese biscuits that MUST be made with the chili
What I’m Reading
Fiction: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty (I am not a fan of thrillers, but this one is the only exception.)
Nonfiction: Reclaiming Motherhood by Samantha Stephenson (stay tuned for more info on this one as it is launching officially next month!)
What I’m Writing
My October piece for Catholic Women in Business is all about how your line of work can serve the Kingdom even if it is not mission-based or religious in nature.
I had so much fun with this little list I posted on my blog: A realistic holiday bucket list for other moms who aren’t making paper angels with their kids or carving turkeys out of butter. I hope it makes you laugh, or at the very least, gives you some permission to go a little easy on yourself this holiday season.
This Coffee + Crumbs essay, “Three Things I Know,” is beautiful, particularly this excerpt:
I see these small moments of their childhood that no one else sees, moments that would slip through the cracks of time, insignificant to a world in such a very big hurry. If feeling unseen is a part of doing this good, hard, holy work, I will endure it. I will find myself again through all the strange and simple things that are worth knowing in this little world we have made together.
A Prayer for You
A little blessing “For Those Who Fear They Can’t” (by Author Stephanie Smith), which applies to more than just the writing context:
For all the ruts and resistance we face in this life,
May you dare to believe in possibility,
Knowing you are loved by a God who understands the risk of creating, anyway.
For all the ways your voice may be sidelined or silenced,
May you remember your diaphragm is a mighty muscle,
Your life has much to say,
And you are worthy of being heard.
When resistance gets loud,
May you remember this worthiness is your fight song,
And it will always have the last word.
Until next time,
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I read this while um-humming my son. Such a good reminder! I try to remind myself they are shooting stars; here today and gone in a flash. They’ll never be this age again!