I have nothing to show for my day. If a manager came knocking on my door and asked to see what projects I’d completed, I’m afraid I would have to avert my eyes, create a diversion then hide under my desk. On my balance sheet, today comes up as a big zero.

Much of the time, for many at-home mothers, that’s how it feels. We don’t really produce anything that the economy calls significant, so all of those little things we do seem to add up to not very much. How many of us have laughed uncomfortably when someone, usually someone who gets paid to work all day, asks, “So what do you do all day?” It reminds me of the time a friend’s husband insinuated that my life is one protracted coffee morning. (He didn’t use the word, “protracted.” That’s my word. I guess coffee mornings improve one’s vocabulary.)

What did I do today? If you took everything I did and tried to hold it in the palm of your hand, it would be a crumpled wad of apparently insignificant offcuts and clippings. This morning I sawed thin slices of brown bread from a loaf, and with bleary pre-coffee swipes, spread peanut butter on one side and jam on the other. I broke a few eggs and tossed them into a pan for breakfast. I unloaded, loaded, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, a dress rehearsal for tomorrow’s loading and unloading. I turned my son’s clothes right-side out, sliding my arm up into the space his small, buttery limbs would soon occupy. I clicked the line of snaps that runs up his pyjamas until I got to his chin, where I planted a small kiss.

I walked my eldest to the bus stop. She held my hand until we got in sight of the other children there, then walked confidently ahead. I walked away, and at precisely the right time, turned around and waved goodbye, just as she did. Along the way, I gently guided my nine year old to the inside of the pavement, so I could walk on the outside: the car side. We paused to strip two leaves off an oak tree: food for some hairy, hungry caterpillars in a plastic Indian takeaway box under our kitchen table, the five year old’s “pets.”

Lily pond

Later I leaned over a railing and stared into a pond with that five year old, watching damselflies flit from reed to reed. At his request, I extracted their tiny, papery exuviae from nearby reeds—the left-behind husks of their former water-bound selves. As we talked about the dragonflies before us, I brushed his hair from his eyes. I held his jacket when he decided it was too hot. I put it back on him when the breeze came up and our walk took us into shade.

damselfly 2015

Tonight I lay down with him when it was bedtime. I read him his current bedtime book—a book he chose, which I can’t stand, about meerkat ninjas in Antarctica (yes, you read that right. Feel my pain.). Once he was asleep, I took down the laundry I’d pegged out earlier. And later, when my husband came home from the supermarket, we unloaded bags and put the food away.

This is my life. It is the gentle, unremitting attention to the everyday. It is presence in micro-moments. It is releasing what happened yesterday. It is immersing myself in what today, and only today, asks of me. It is surrendering myself to what is required in the here and now.

It doesn’t seem like much. I don’t expect the Prime Minister to clap me on the back and thank me for raising well-adjusted, happy children. What I do doesn’t factor into his GDP. To him, I’m just on an all-day coffee break.  But still, what I do has value and I need no one’s validation to believe that.

What’s more, I can use the word, “protracted” in a sentence. Pass the cappuccino, friends.

©Lisa Hassan Scott 2015.

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All I did today
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19 thoughts on “All I did today

  • 19/06/2015 at 9:57 pm

    Nice blog Lisa. What you are, is there for those you care about.

    • 19/06/2015 at 9:59 pm

      Thank you David. I appreciate your visit here so much, and of course your support of ds5’s interests. 🙂

  • 19/06/2015 at 11:54 pm

    Lisa, hello! I haven’t stopped by in ages. This is beautiful, and I’m going to read it again now.
    Cheers from the garden. And tell me about your chiles.

    • 20/06/2015 at 7:31 am

      Hello Lisa! Thank you for stopping by. It’s good to see you here. My chiles? They’re growing but not blooming just yet. We moved the polytunnel to a sunnier position this year and everything is looking amazing. Hope all is well with you and your family and the bees of course!

  • 20/06/2015 at 8:58 am

    In other words you had a day filled with love and beauty. And then you expressed it with love and beauty.

    • 20/06/2015 at 11:19 am

      Yes. Thank you for understanding.

  • 20/06/2015 at 1:59 pm

    Beautiful and thank you for the reminder that our invisible work has value

    • 20/06/2015 at 6:36 pm

      Yes, it really does.It’s invisible, but powerful.

  • 20/06/2015 at 6:21 pm

    I love your writing and how you express things, always. But I can’t help but also feel sad that any mother feels the need to defend how she spends her time. xx

    • 20/06/2015 at 6:37 pm

      Isn’t that that truth?

      Thank you for being so kind about my writing.

  • 20/06/2015 at 7:24 pm

    Wonderful, as ever, Lisa. And you’ve taught me a lesson today. This:

    It is releasing what happened yesterday. It is immersing myself in what today, and only today, asks of me. It is surrendering myself to what is required in the here and now.

    This is what I so often forget to do. I’m too busy thinking about what happened yesterday, or what will happen tomorrow, or the things on my list that need to be done in the next few days, or the things I need to do but haven’t put on my list yet. When you give all your attention to what’s happening right now, things are so much better. When you don’t, you attend to nothing really.

    Thanks for the reminder!

    • 20/06/2015 at 7:58 pm

      Thank you for this, Kirsten, and I’m glad we could share these feelings. I share my writing with other people, but it is also a form of reminder to myself– of what’s really important, the way of life that makes me and those around me happy… Being in today is what seems to produce the greatest happiness and peace overall, so that it where I hope to remain. But it’s a constant practice!

  • 20/06/2015 at 11:05 pm

    Paid work may be a necessity to earn the money to live, but generally I feel it is highly overrated. It will never make up for witnessing the beauty of a butterfly unfolding its wings for the first time and see the miracle reflected in your kids’ eyes. To read a story that you don’t like and feel their body relax next to you. No money in the world can make up for that! Beautiful writing, Lisa. Karin x

    • 21/06/2015 at 8:25 am

      Thank you Karin 🙂

  • 22/06/2015 at 1:58 pm

    Oh, Lisa, once again you write about the right things. You get it. Thank you so much for getting it, and for writing about it, and for sharing it so very well. You remind me that i am not alone in such a compassionate, loving way.

    • 22/06/2015 at 6:54 pm

      I am so happy that I have been able to connect with you like this Dawn. Thank you for taking a few moments to comment.

  • 22/06/2015 at 9:10 pm

    thank you for sharing your eloquent and pertinent thoughts so honestly here- a timely reminder for me as we live in a school and the end of term is very fast and hassled- being calm and in the present affects the whole house positively! the nature connection really helps doesn’t it! My 4 yr old now sees how long it takes to watch an apple tree flower and the apple to grow (is it ready yet?!) watching it like you guys do helps the slowing!
    Thanks again xxx

    • 22/06/2015 at 9:46 pm

      Oh yes, the blossoming of an apple tree and all the time it takes… plus if you get up close you might see ladybird larvae which are incredible little creatures… little things are so important.

      Thanks for your comments and hope the end of term is calm for you.

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