Her blue eyes turn toward me. I can sense the mischief behind them: What will momma think if I do this? The same look my husband had as a child. Full of the wild, her eyes are ocean blue. She requires only a moment’s pause before springing into action—she climbs on the couch and teeters toward the edge as quickly as possible. My reaction, of course, is to gasp and dive after her. She dissolves into fits of giggles, and my heart races at the near accident. As we lay together, her blonde hair tangled in my brown, I can see the couch from her eyes. The linen threads are tucked and pulled in places. Its texture looks like sand next to her eyes. How often do I miss the little details that catch my daughter’s attention—nay, even enthrall her!
Last week we went walking after dinner. The sun was just setting. There was a salty, cool breeze blowing in off the ocean. We stuffed our hands in our pockets and sauntered along the shoreline path. Every few steps or so, our 17-month-old stopped to collect pebbles. A curated collection began to grow in her hands—some shiny, others rough. Each one was carefully inspected before meeting approval.
Occasionally, all of the gathered rocks were put down, one by one, rearranged, and then picked back up. It amused her curious spirit and warmed my heart. My husband and I smiled at one another as we waited patiently. This curious display reminded us of an ongoing discourse we have regarding how silly our own collections must be to our Heavenly Father. We accumulate treasures and invest so much time in how we put together our home. Watching our daughter seemed to suggest that there is meaningful beauty in trivial things. Also, that in their beauty, those things are meaningful and not so trivial after all.
Some things cause our appreciation of creation to mature. Recently, the importance of perceiving beauty in small things has grabbed ahold of my heart. Along with beauty have come deeper reflections on simplicity. Becoming a mother was just the beginning. Mothering a newborn, and now a toddler, has been like a course in relishing simple things.
The first lesson learned in those precious newborn days was one of the hardest of my life. She needed nothing but nurturing . . . at the expense of my body in every aspect. Her birth, need to eat at all hours, propensity for being held every minute—taxing. Those days helped carve away my self-centeredness. Perhaps we were giving away too much of ourselves. Some suggested that we were too giving. Alternatively, perhaps we were responding to grace the best way we knew how. As Mother Teresa used to say, “do small things with great love.” Allowing the repetition of those days to soften our hearts, we became more aware of how to respond in the simplest of contexts.
The second preeminent lesson has been how to turn those small matters into something of importance. In the newborn days, everything was done quietly and slowly. In contrast, the early toddler days have us racing! Balls are thrown, books are read, toys are pulled, and activities are rotated. The repetition is still there; we must read the same books twenty times a day. Something she couldn’t do yesterday—but learns today—thrills her. Her exuberance for every activity is overflowing, and when my husband and I approach her with matching joy, we light up her world!
We cannot possibly shelter her worldview forever—blind her to the cruelty that coexists with the beauty. As parents, we can only pray to God that our children will live lives characterized by more beauty than needless suffering. We know our parents prayed the same for us, and that generation upon generation has held out this most nuclear hope—peace for their children.
As the months and years pass by, my husband and I are beginning to realize that our joy is now our daughter’s—that we desire to foster beauty around her; that our joys are intrinsically connected. Perhaps this has been the most beautiful lesson of them all, and the simplest: that we imagined we would have so much to teach our daughter . . . but that she has much more to teach us. The way she smells a flower, the way she lets her sun-kissed shoulders relax when she plays in the sand . . . the way she never hesitates to show her real feelings to those who love her. Yes, I do have so much to learn when it comes to being like a child. Thank goodness, I have the most loving and precious teacher in the world.
Written by, Nyssa Biszko