Reclaim the Day

Every once in a while, I think about quitting my blog, because I would feel like less of a hypocrite.

It might be better if I wasn’t publicly sharing my ideas and opinions that sometimes turn out really badly when I try to practice them for myself on a daily basis.

Take Wednesday, for example. I wrote this post on Tuesday, and believed it with all my heart.

And then I woke up on Wednesday, and it was a horrible day.

Ben was working from early morning till late at night for most of the week, and we barely saw him. We all took turns having the stomach flu. Nasty hormones also insisted on making a flamboyant appearance. I got an email regarding a speaking engagement in February, and really felt as though I was the last person on earth who should be considering even opening my mouth in a public setting.

Everything reached a breaking point on Wednesday.

As I was writing this description, Anika started reading over my shoulder.

She asked, “What was so bad about Wednesday….Oh, yeah. I remember Wednesday.”

When Ben came home late that night, I sat on the couch and bawled. I felt like the worst mother in the entire world. And that stupid blog post I wrote! Soaking in family moments, making happy days, blah, blah, blah. What an earth was I talking about?

And then wisdom and salvation came from two excellent pieces of advice.

As I sat crying on the couch, Ben quoted my dad’s wise words: Don’t look at the crops when it’s raining.

In other words, evaluating my life when I’m sick, exhausted, discouraged and frustrated is not the right time. Wait until everything calms down a bit. Things always get better. Until then, just hang in there and don’t think too much!

The other bit of advice came from that fantastic new book I’m reading, which you should all have added to your Christmas lists by now: Simplicity Parenting, by Kim John Paine.

Just three little words: Reclaim the day.

Those words offer such hope, don’t they?

Some days just go really badly. Sometimes we make mistakes, and we need to give ourselves a lot of grace.

On days like that, I can be pretty quick to write off the entire day.

“We’re just having a bad day today.”

“I’m feeling sick today.”

“I’m in such a bad mood today.”

What’s with “today”?

Why not give  the day a chance? Leave some space for things to turn around?

I remember using this concept when I was in high school. Except I called it “Starting the Day Over”.

There were some days when I just felt yucky about stuff in general. I was having a bad hair day, my outfit that seemed like a cool thing to wear when I put it on in the morning somehow lost its coolness by the time I got to school, bad things happened during the day that left me feeling discouraged about my little teenage life.

So I’d come home, have another shower, redo my hair, put on a different outfit, eat some chocolate, and call my best friend.

Starting the day over. At 5 pm.

I cannot imagine myself going to such lengths to “start the day over” now. (There is no way I’m doing my hair twice in one day.)

But is it ever too late to start things fresh?

I’ve been trying to think of how we might do that around here.

Some time alone, or some fresh air.

going for a walk

Happy music, books and blankets on the couch.

A little pep talk and a different approach.

I have no idea how well it would work, so I won’t make myself into a hypocrite by sounding like I’ve got this whole thing figured out.

I’ll just say that “Reclaiming the Day” is on my mind, and I’m going to try it the next time I’m tempted to sit on my couch crying about the day.

So I will choose to get up and start over. I will be intentional about turning this thing around. And I will keep blogging, even if it means publicly exposing how much I still need to learn!

And now I really need your suggestions!! What might “Reclaim the Day” mean for you?

Motivation To Do This All Over Again

Most of the time, I like being a stay-at-home mom. I love taking care of our girls, and I’ve made myself learn to like cooking and taking care of our home. And I’ve always just loved being at home.

But there are always times when I get frustrated or discouraged about things being so repetitive, or when my work feels so useless.  Why wash the floor when it will get dirty the very next time someone comes in the door? Why try to teach the girls how to communicate better when they’ll just start fighting again in about two seconds? Why fold all the laundry when it will just get used up again?


Usually, these feelings mean I need to get out of the house, and have a break so that I can remember why I’m doing all of this in the first place. I need to remind myself why it all matters, because otherwise, my life starts feeling very, very small.

But this week, I started reading an incredible book, and I’m being reminded all over again that the small things, done faithfully, make a big difference in the long run. All the ways in which I’m trying to create a home for my family will impact them in some way, even if they don’t know exactly how.

Meaning hides in repetition: We do this every day or every week because it matters. We are connected by this thing we do together. We matter to one another. In the tapestry of childhood, what stands out is not the splashy, blow-out trip to Disneyland but the common threads that run throughout and repeat: the family dinners, nature walks, reading together at bedtime (with a hot water bottle at our feet on winter evenings), Saturday morning pancakes. (Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne, p.98)

When I was growing up, my mom always did laundry in the same way: she sorted all of the clothing into similar colors, and then she spread out a shirt or a towel over the pile, to make it look neat and keep it together until she threw the pile into the washing machine. That is just how it was done.

Did it impact my childhood in any way? No, except that it was normal and predictable. I would have noticed if she hadn’t done it. Something would have been off. It wouldn’t have felt like my mom doing the laundry.

Or I remember the way she answered me when I called. I would yell out, “Mommy?” And she would, without fail, call back, “What-y?”

One day, I guess she thought I was old enough to move past this tradition, and she answered my call with “What?” And then I cried.

Even when I started referring to her as “Mom” instead of “Mommy”, when I called out for her, I would still say “Mommy”, just so that she would answer with her rhyming “What-y?”

Such little, little things. Family jokes and traditions, like my dad always being late for lunch on the days when we were having fried potatoes. He had no way of knowing, it just always worked out that way. My mom would be frying the potatoes at the stove, and we’d all say, “Oh, Dad will be late for lunch! It’s fried potatoes!”

Or popcorn balls for night lunch, while we all watched Brady Bunch episodes together as a family, convincing my dad to let us watch just one more before we had to go to bed.

And the decoy ducks that floated in our pond every year, long after my mom figured out the joke, and learned they weren’t real.

Or sitting on the big swing with my mom on a spring evening when the lilacs or apple blossoms were in bloom, talking until it was so dark that we could hardly see my dad coming across the lawn to join us after his long day of work.

Oh, those were the happy days.

And now Ben and I have the chance to create our own happy days. Listing “Favorite Things of the Day” at supper each evening. Family walks. Reading stories in bed. Saturday morning pancakes and “happy music”.


The other day, Kaylia said to me, “Tomorrow morning, I will do a play with the Barbies, while Daddy makes breakfast and Mommy exercises.”

Because that’s what we do, and she knows it. If the girls get up in the morning, and I’m not stretching on the living room floor, they’re a little lost, and have no idea where to find me.

I wonder what things my girls will remember the most. I’m sure my mom never thought I’d remember the laundry piles covered with T-shirts and towels. Or her red kerchief over her hair on baking days.

Here’s what I’m thinking: Some things we do intentionally. We try to build a good home, and good memories for our children. We carefully create family moments and times of bonding.

But some things just happen. And because we are creatures of habits, we do the same, quirky little things that give predictability and comfort, just because the quirks belong to the members of our family – the people we love.

I think the best family moments are a mixture of both. Plan to have fun, but also embrace the way things just are. Notice them. Remember them. Soak in the every day things, the normal stuff.

And then wake up tomorrow, and do it all over again.

Meaning hides in repetition.