The Cost of Hope

“It's not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It's our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”  –L.R. Knost

“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”
–L.R. Knost

I was licking the envelope when my older daughter came into the kitchen. “Who’s the letter for?” she wondered.

I told her it was for Miss Amanda, her former preschool teacher who was also her babysitter six years ago.

My daughter didn’t remember Miss Amanda, but I did. In fact, I would never forget her. There I was in a new city with a new baby, a toddler, and a traveling husband. Amanda would come to our house a few hours a week and play with the children. I remember feeling quite homesick and alone, yet incredibly grateful for this young lady with gentle hands and a hearty laugh who was able to give me a reprieve.

“Amanda helped me through a very hard time when you and your sister were little,” I explained. “And now, I want to help her. She and her husband are trying to raise money to bring home their baby from Uganda.”

“Can anyone help—or is it just for adults?” my child asked.

When I told her anyone could donate, she literally ran to get her wallet. She returned looking very sad. Much to her dismay, all that was left of her recent birthday money was one single dollar bill.

My daughter didn’t hide her look of anguish. “A dollar isn’t much,” she concluded sadly.

I held my breath. This child is my giver—the one who thinks nothing of giving decorated rocks or pretty seashells as gifts or offering her own favorite trinkets to sick friends. I was going be heartbroken if she put the dollar back in her wallet, embarrassed to give such a small amount. I hoped societal influences hadn’t already altered her uninhibited way of giving that had greatly impacted my own offerings in years past.

“Do you think a dollar will make a difference?” she asked skeptically.

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School Year Hopes

school year hopes #handsfreemama

This summer I spent a lot of time loving my children “as is.” No comparisons to their peers; no thoughts of what skills they need to have mastered by a certain date; no worries for problems they may never encounter—just loving them right where they are now, today.

But here we are, the second day of school, and I can already feel the pressure mounting—pressure to prepare for tomorrow, next month, next year, and so on.

Please don’t get me wrong; I know it’s important for children to be prepared for tomorrow’s spelling test, next week’s music recital, next month’s big game, and next year’s grade level assessment. These things matter—they do. But I am guilty of letting these future events matter more than what really matters now.

Today. Today really matters.

Today is all we know for sure that we really have.

My greatest hope for this school year is to remember how important … and how promising … today is.

Tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year all have pressures attached to them. Trying to prepare for things unknown and lofty goals can be downright overwhelming and daunting.

But today is different.

Today is doable. It’s manageable. It’s standing right in front of us requiring no plan whatsoever, just waiting to be grasped. It’s exactly why people often suggest taking one day at a time.

But in this fast-paced, task-driven, achievement-oriented world, it’s easy to forget that lovely little notion: One day at a time.

So I’ve been thinking. What might the school year look like if I try to focus a little less on tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year and focus a little more on today?

I don’t know, but I am going to try. So of course, I’m starting today with a few small efforts. And whether I do just one of them, three of them, or most of them, I can’t help but believe such efforts have the potential to bring a little more peace, a little more joy, a little more love, and a little less pressure to my family’s life today.

So here they are, my school year hopes for my children today

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Before Today Ends

before today ends

Today I hear …

Whining about her sister having a bigger scoop.
Slamming doors.
The relentless buzz of the dryer–a load needs folded … again.

But I also hear …

“This dinner ‘tasteses’ good, Mama.”
The C-chord sounding a bit like heaven on a tiny ukulele.
Tender, loving words in her sleepy bedtime voice.

This is what my life sounds like today.
And if I close my eyes and listen very carefully, that which sounds heavenly can overpower the noise.

Today I see …

Wet towels carelessly abandoned upon the bathroom floor.
Toothpaste blobs inhabiting the sink.
Weeds where flowers used to be.

But I also see …

Gentle hands putting dolls tenderly in their place.
A hole where a tooth used to be—her last baby tooth to go.
A love note written in kid penmanship resting on my pillow.

This is what my life looks like today.
And if I open my eyes and look very carefully, that which appears divinely perfect can outshine the mess.

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