When You Don’t Bow You Miss Babies And Other Low To The Ground Things

I just thought you should know, when I started blogging I was somewhere else.

I was almost lost, and entirely hopeless. In my dark place I learned to write, to live in the neat boarders that come with punctuation marks and paragraphs. I counted the pearlescent lotion bottles on the messy bathroom counter as gifts, and I said thank you for all of the small things, because I could only look at the small things.

The big things were capable of eating me, so I didn’t look at them. It was humbling to take notice of the way the birds lived, tiny feathers and twig houses. It was humbling to look at things no one else looks at, but it kept me sane, it kept me grateful.

Things got better, and I got tired of being humble, so I stopped.

I stopped counting the ways that sunlight fell on the carpet, and I raised my head.

I was afraid that all the intentional staring, all the focus on the crisp way an envelope folds, or the spiced dull way a warm coffee tastes, was a mental trick.
Was being grateful only a way for me to keep my sanity in a world of baby spit and anonymity? A way to ignore reality?

I turned 30 and panicked. I’m still here, wearing purple tights and drinking decaf, typing to the rhythm of the washer as I always do, because the dirt never ends. Every ounce of me wants to live bigger, to throw away my pajamas and become a person who is too busy for birds and envelopes and lotion bottles. Instead I’m here with little people and little problems and little sleep. I have a choice to grow discontent and fear for my celebrity, or to open my eyes and find the secrets in Motherhood.

It comes down, as it will again, to the question of purpose. Do I live for a principle or for myself? And then…what if the principle is a Person?

I think I’ve lost a little of my faith lately, because I stopped bowing my head. Because I started looking in instead of out. It was very stressful to look at life through my self. Flesh is a terrible window, and it’s very dark.  I’m looking for the old ways again, counting everything a miracle, finding God in the details and watching my chubby infant child testify to the overwhelming importance of the small.

Gratitude for the small:

Three teeth in a baby mouth
flannel pajamas
library books for my Kindle
new toilets
Downton Abbey
paper snowflakes
children songs
loud plastic drums
loud plastic guitars
a quiet life
baby food in a bag
a baby who sits
G.K. Chesterton

 500-512 of my gratitude list

24 thoughts on “When You Don’t Bow You Miss Babies And Other Low To The Ground Things

  1. Somewhere else today (Michelle DeRusha's place maybe?) I said something to the effect that finding Ann's blog and reading her book nearly saved my life. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. Learning to look for and count the small was life-giving. I get this post. Truly.


  2. the journey is long. just when i think i have found the end and the answer i realize it's a corner and a new question. thank you for your honesty. it truly refreshes me.


  3. i love this. your honesty, the look into your soul, the way you share just who you are. i wish i'd had that freedom when my kids were the ages of yours.
    you are brave. and courageous. and strong. keep filling up with the One who will continue to grow you in grace and beauty, even on the raw days.
    may you feel Him holding you even now, and pouring down more small things for you to notice.


  4. Being a momma to little ones is hard. Someone is always needing something. You are doing God's work. Raising those boys with lots of love and gratitude for the gift that they are. You make me proud girl.
    I am going to check out this Downton Abbey you speak of…


  5. First of all, you need to know that your writing is one of my favorite blessings since becoming a blogger. You never fail to lift me up, reel me in, make me look/think/feel a little differently than I did before I started reading your words.

    Every single time.

    Also, new toilets are big.

    Oh yeah.


  6. just so's you know, you got me hooked on downton abbey. (i love me some anna and mr. bates, but my, that thomas is dastardly.)

    also, this line is my favoritest bit of this post: 'Flesh is a terrible window, and it's very dark.' you are wise and funny all at once. i adore you so.


  7. JoAnn, just wanted to say hi. You are not alone in this. Seeing the hope in the small things makes everything brighter, it really does. I'm glad you write.


  8. I think it's perfectly ok and more than ok really that gift-listing keeps you sane. Do you need more of a reason to count? I personally don't. Gift listing is keeping my head just barely out of grief these days and that is plenty enough for me.

    Love you, girl.


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