I picture myself standing in an art museum. My face is an inch away from the painting—almost touching it. It’s an impressionist one, maybe one of Monet’s gardens.
I can’t see the whole painting because I’m standing so close to it. I only see the brushstrokes. The shades of color. The varying thickness of the strokes. The beauty of the painting is lost on me because I’m simply much too close. To see the full picture, I’d have to take several steps back. If I did that, I could see that all those seemingly random brushstrokes come together to create a masterpiece.
Parenting can be like that. When you’re managing the minute-to-minute daily tasks of life with littles, when you’re sleep-deprived, or when you’re just plain maxed out—you don’t have the luxury of stepping back to take it in. You’re standing so close to that masterpiece—your life and your family—that you cannot see it. In those times, the brushstrokes don’t look anything like a masterpiece; they look like chaos and disorder.
For me, that tends to happen when I haven’t had a second to myself for a long stretch of time and I’m overwhelmed by the noise and demands of my house. I can’t see that masterpiece because I’m so busy LIVING IN IT. I’m busy making the dinners, giving baths, breaking up arguments, or helping with homework. I am focused on those necessary brushstrokes of daily life with small kids. I’m too close to the painting, but I always know, in my head and my heart, that the masterpiece is there, somewhere right before my eyes. I just can’t see it.
Today is not one of those days. Today—I can see it. With everyone in school or mom’s day out today, I’ve had time to pause and hear myself think and step back a bit.
So today, when I’m not fully IN IT, standing with my face an inch from the masterpiece? I can see it, guys.
I CAN SEE IT ALL.
I see my older girls, growing before my eyes into older kids and pre-teens. They’re funny and thoughtful, and I love spending time with them. I see my triplets, whose golden faces no longer hold any visible traces of babyhood. My babies are now fully vested preschoolers.
I see my husband, who cares so much for the well-being of his patients and who knows exactly what to say to make me laugh uncontrollably.
I see my siblings, my mom, my friends, and I think about how incredibly lucky I am to have those people in my life.
Tomorrow, I may be standing too close once again. I’ll be back to the day-to-day grind where I’m sometimes unable to see the oversized, beautiful scene right in front of me.
Yet for today, I have to say: this life, these kids—it is so beautiful from where I’m standing. I am so thankful for it and everything it has given me.
I hope that you, too, get a minute or two this week to stop, step back, and see the masterpiece of your life. It’s right there in front of you, right under your nose. You just have to step back to see it.
(Pic of Monet’s gardens at Giverny because they’re beautiful, and I’ve loved Monet’s paintings of them ever since I was a kid. Maybe one day I’ll make it over to France to see them.)