Monotony and repetition are a normal part of life, I know. I want to think of the tasks I do over and over as anchoring and comforting. Things might be crazy, but I can always count on the laundry needing to be folded, right? No. No… I do not think of it that way. I’m sure some people do, but it’s a major struggle for me. I’ve always enjoyed jobs where I had to think on my feet and do something different every single day. I loved being the errand runner for my employer in high school. Working for a nonprofit that served homeless friends was thrilling. Journalism was amazing because I got to talk to different people every day! My favorite days as a stay-at-home mom are when we leave the house and go on adventures. Repetition just isn’t my thing. I want life to be new and exciting EVERY DAY!!! 🤩
Anyone else? Have you ever found yourself pondering these deep questions at the end of a long, monotonous day?
🤯 I just cleaned this kitchen. How is it already dirty? I swept the floor like two days ago. I have to do it again? We just washed all these clothes! How do we use a full dishwasher’s worth of dishes every single day?
🤯 I wonder how many times have I chopped up an onion in my life?
🤯 How many times have I wiped a baby’s butt?
🤯 How many times do we model something for a child before they learn how to do it?
🤯 She wants to read that book for the eighth time today. How is she not tired of it?
🤯 Wait, to get the benefits of exercise I have to do it every day, not just like… once a month when I feel like it?
On weeks like this one, when we’re stuck inside (Julia’s been running a fever for a couple days), I really struggle. After three or four days of staying in because of a sickness quarantine or bad weather, I have to leave the house, even if it’s to go to the store to get milk. If I don’t, it feels like I’m living my own version of "Groundhog Day," (the one where Bill Murray wakes up and it’s the same day over and over again).
Drink coffee. Eat breakfast. Do dishes. Watch Sesame Street. Read books. Color. Have a tea party. Clean up a potty accident. Fold clothes. Cook dinner. “Hold youuuuuuu. Hold youuuuu. Mommy, hold youuuu!” Bedtime routine. Shower. Get in bed to "read" (aka pass out with the lights on at 8:30 p.m. after reading two pages). And… repeat.
I know having structure, routine and repetition is SO good for children. Predictability is what their little developing brains need to feel safe. So while I’m lamenting that we haven’t done anything exciting or fun in days, my little gal is probably living her very best life (other than the fever). But it’s still a struggle for mama.
I saw a quote the other day that really rocked my thinking on this.
"Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
- GK Chesterton
Wow. What a mindset shift! These days that seem to all run together, the tasks that come at me as predictably as waves on the beach, the link between repetition and learning—what would it be like to be strong enough to delight in doing good, beautiful, worthwhile things again and again? How might these weeks we’re stuck inside be different if I could stop wondering what I’m missing out there and, like my child, embrace what is right here in front of me?
🤯 What a joy to read that book over and over and be able to predict her exact reaction to that next page where the dog licks the baby: “Uh-oh! Noooo!” she’ll say in a concerned voice as she looks at me. Julia does not like when dogs lick people, in books or in real life. I know that because we’ve read this book 800 times. It still makes me laugh.
🤯 How precious to unload the dishwasher each day with my little helper: “Coffee,” she smiles as she passes me a mug. “Daddy,” as she grabs his Yeti cup. “Yodurt,” for her little blue bowl she eats yogurt out of every morning.
🤯 How amazing to watch my child’s language develop on a daily basis: “More cheese,” she casually whines as she hangs on the refrigerator door. All of a sudden and so nonchalant after months of us trying to get her to say those two words together.
We can learn so much from children, can’t we? Julia is teaching me—there are thrills, joys, gifts and growth to be found in the monotony of our daily lives. I wonder what I’ve missed while wishing I was somewhere else? And what will I discover tomorrow in the middle of my monotony?