I am in the thick of thin things. It’s true. I wake up every morning with big plans: I want to write a book. I want to run ten miles. I want to try a new hairstyle. I want to cook a gourmet meal. But, the moment I get out of bed, my plans change. Instead of documenting life-changing events, sprinting across finish lines, and wowing my family with fashion or food, I spend my day making beds, washing dishes, and yes, changing diapers.
I wait every day for a maid to arrive. But, after four trips to the potty in one hour (not me) I find myself on my hands and knees mopping up the floor, and I realize that I am the maid for the day.
I wait for the cook to start the breakfast oatmeal. But, when I walk into the empty kitchen and see the milk still in the fridge and the juice still unmixed, then I realize that I am the cook for the day.
I wait for the gardener to appear. But, when I go out to the vegetable plot and see weeds bigger than the pea plants and aphids on the roses, then I realize that I am the gardener for the day.
I wait for the taxi to honk its horn. But, when I see my son pulling on his shoes, his backpack over his back as he glances at his watch and says, “I’m late!” then I realize that I am the chauffeur for the day.
I wait for the laundry service to knock on the door. But, when I walk into the wash room and see the mountains of dirty clothes patiently sitting near the empty washer, then I realize that I am the laundress for the day.
I wait for the delivery boy to ring my doorbell, his arms loaded with groceries for the evening meal. But, when I open the refrigerator and see only a solitary carton of potato salad, then I realize that I am the supply foreman for the day.
My days are helplessly filled with thin things: cleaning, cooking, changing, carpooling. Will a newscaster show up at my door? Will a biographer document my daily work? Will a university bestow honors upon me? Most likely not. Remember, I am in the thick of thin things.
My husband is conference-calling with CEOs, and dining with CPAs, and making important decisions with CFOs. Surely, those things are important. Surely those tasks are thick. Oh how I long to be in the thick of thick things.
My summer days are the epitome of supposedly thin times. With all of the children home all day and all night, opportunities for personal, life-changing events are few and far between. “Will you go on a bike-ride with us?” “Please help me find my swimsuit.” “What are we having for lunch?” “I need to get a new book at the library.” “Can you help me write a letter to Grandma?” The requests are constant.
One dinner time, with my husband off on a conference call, the “Mama” requests came at five-second intervals. “Stop!” I finally said. “For three minutes we will have quiet at this table.” The children good-naturedly ate in silence until the lemonade spilled and it was time for dessert. Then the happy chatter started up again, and I was back in the thick of it.
When the sun went down (well past their bedtime) they were finally asleep, and I went downstairs for a moment alone. Wet swimsuits on the bathroom floor, tennis shoes in the entry way, robin eggs collected on the back porch. I was too exhausted to write my book, or run a few miles. No grand accomplishments today.
However, despite my despair, my life may eventually turn around, like a pair of backwards binoculars. Perhaps I have been looking through the wrong end, and mistakenly envisioned all of life’s big things through the small lens; and, in reality, my small things may someday be gigantic. When the CEOs are retired, and the CFOs are bankrupt, there will still be family. Perhaps family focuses the lenses of life, and correctly shows what is thick, and what is thin. And I must admit, I’d rather be in the thick of thin things which will one day become thick, than in the thick of thick things, which will one day become thin.
Diapers, meals, laundry, cleaning. These are the everyday actions that save the world. Like Gandalf in The Hobbit, "I've found it is the small things, every act of normal folk that keeps the darkness at bay."
Yes, I believe I’ll turn my perspective around. When I wake up tomorrow and see unmade beds, and unwashed laundry, and uncooked meals, I’ll feel a smidge of importance. I’ll know that playing the maid and the cook and the chauffeur and the laundress and the gardener, is really playing the part of the knight in shining armor (the one who defends – and then wins – the castle). I’ll understand that these are not thin things. And that’s about the thick of it.