When my oldest son was born we were renting a 100 year old house on a corner lot a few blocks from the high school. We had no air conditioning other than the two window units and no dishwasher other than our two hands.
Oh, and the carpet was blue.
My son’s nursery was a simple affair. We bought a white crib with $100 my husband’s grandmother gave us. A friend let us borrow a changing table. That plus a chest of drawers that had been mine and my sister’s growing up and a rocking chair of my grandmother’s my mom painted and recovered the cushions made up the nursery decor.
Some of my pregnant friends (homeowners with slightly more disposable income than us) were busy decorating their nurseries with stenciled alphabets on the wall and adorable matching bedding sets in the crib.
I was insanely jealous.
It seems funny in retrospect, especially now that I have both AC and a dishwasher and no need for a nursery with or without stenciled walls. However, when I reflect on the current standards of perfection and expectation that accompany motherhood as we now know it, I realize I would never have made it in this day and age of Pinterest and Instagram. The Lord does indeed determine the specific times in which we live, yes and amen.
I once read an article about Instagram envy. Apparently it’s a thing and I can see why. As we adopt this alternate reality as the standard, we begin to lose sight of what’s really real. If I, as a much younger mom, envied to the point of bitterness my friend’s real life nursery adorableness, how much more so a edited and filtered snapshot of nursery perfection? I’ve heard of motherhood being delayed until the perfect house could be afforded or a wedding put off for the ideal venue. I understand wanting an adequate home or a beautiful backdrop but motherhood is more than the house and marriage more than the wedding.
No AC and dishwasher aside, those were happy days in that small two bedroom house. We had little in terms of worldly goods but we were rich in joy and grace. Our family was just beginning to grow, we enjoyed the fellowship of several close friends, our life was good. Real good.
I have often advised my younger friends to enjoy their children while they are young, so often have I done so that I fear I have been misunderstood. One young mom finally admitted to me on a particularly tough day that she did not and would not enjoy nor miss that specific day or its struggles.
“No one misses the hard days,” I told her. “No one wishes for those days back!”
I know I don’t. What I regret most are the ordinary days that I resented for their very ordinariness, the days I spent in jealousy or bitterness over someone else’s providence, the times I compared and felt I’d been shorted, the wasted moments wishing for something else, something I thought to be better.
I’m not advocating all young families live in 100 year old homes with primary colored carpeting. By all means, have your elaborate birthday parties and decorate your nursery with every Pinterest inspired project you desire. But let’s be wise as we do so, knowing our own hearts and knowing that such pursuits are fleeting at best. They do not last. In a few short years the wedding album will be tucked away in a drawer somewhere, the nursery decor will quickly be replaced by something less baby-ish, the birthday parties will pass leaving a detritus of wrapping paper and cake crumbs to be cleaned up.
It’s the ordinary days that make a life. Don’t waste them in comparison and envy. Enjoy them.