Give yourself credit for small acts of caring.
My to-do list has amazing regenerative powers. For each "to-do" I slash off, two more magically appear in its place. But whenever I have a day that feels particularly unproductive, I take a second to remember Lego Man’s hair. Yes, you read that right: I’m talking about the tiny piece of plastic that fits on Lego figures’ heads. I call this to mind because of an incident that happened a few years ago on a not-so-wonderful day.
My son Nick was about six at the time and I was keeping him company as he took a bath. I was sitting with my back to the bathroom wall, rewriting one of several to-do lists I had read and refolded so many times it was falling apart. I was not a happy camper, a state of mind Nick picked up on, because he asked, "What’s the matter, Mom?"
"Oh, nothing, honey," I lied. "I’m just frustrated because I didn’t get anything done today."
Nick looked at me as though I were insane and said, "What do you mean, Mom? You did a lot!"
"Like what?" I asked.
"Don’t you remember?" he said, "You found Lego Man’s hair!"
"Lego Man’s hair?" I asked, stalling for time. Then it came to me: the 15-minute search on hands and knees under his bed and behind his chair and in his sneakers for a yellow, lentil-sized piece of plastic. When I found it, Nick rejoiced like some crazed archaeologist celebrating the discovery of the Rosetta stone.
Of course, I had not bothered to put "Find Lego Man’s hair" on my to-do list, just as I had overlooked dozens of kid-oriented tasks and favors and treats and games that had clearly brightened Nick’s day. Filtered through his more appreciative lens, my desultory day looked down-right productive - even successful.
As moms, we rarely give ourselves credit for the countless acts of kindness we perform every day. "Picked green stuff out of rice" or "played 30 minutes of an excruciatingly boring game" or "wrestled kids into snowsuits" doesn’t make it into our daily agendas, so our "to-do" list seems despressingly un-done. But when we spend a few extra minutes indulging in a little playtime with our kids or we make a special meal or share a laugh, we are accomplishing much more than we realize. It’s the little moments that mean the most.