On Making Pearls

Sometimes I feel trapped.

Two sets of poopy diapers and exhaustion create their own sort of cage.

So does the semi-panic I feel when I think about leaving the house with both children by myself.  

And so usually we stay in and the curtains stay drawn for half the day and the oldest one gets bored and I never get around to brushing my teeth. When night comes, I end up feeling a bit like an empty oyster.  I've got this shell on the outside that's a little worn and weathered, yet it's hanging in there.  But there is no pearl here on the inside. I seem to be missing the part that helps me feel like I have anything to offer of beauty or worth.

Or I have forgotten how to nurture it, at least.

At the end of the day, when all I can say I've accomplished is that everybody ate or that we went outside for a few minutes or that we watched Minions for the sixth time this week, I have trouble noticing much beauty or worth in life in general. 

I know the beauty and worth is around here somewhere. I know there are plenty of adventures and sweet moments and joy-filled nuggets to be gathered up and embraced. Way down in my heart, I know this to be true.

But I'm still trying to figure out how exactly to leave the house with two children.  

Never mind seizing the day. How do I hold it without dropping it?

Now that there are two, I have to learn again how to make pearls out of the everyday.

I think of all the advice and encouragement I've been given and wonder if this is how it's done: be kind to yourself, take it one task at a time, slow down, write about it, remember grace, get out of the house, be consistent, make a schedule, it gets easier, take a shower every day (easier said than done), treat yourself, reach out and ask for help, this too shall pass ...

Some of these seem like the end of a journey and not so much the beginning of one. It seems like there should be more steps to take before I can automatically be kind to myself. Sometimes I don't arrive at grace immediately. Slowing down isn't something I truly understand how to do. And showering definitely seems like its own sort of victorious conclusion these days.

These words of wisdom seem more like pearls to me. And pearls take time to make.  

I remember the grains of sand, and that pearls are created only after much irritation and discomfort.  

I think about the tired eyes and battles of wills with my toddler and the perplexing fussiness from my baby. The amount of preparation it takes to leave the house to visit the aquarium and the packing of all the stuff and the demanding to be carried out of the house by the child who can walk perfectly fine by herself. The lingering healing from childbirth and the sacrifice of all my time and the glass of sangria I poured myself two days ago and still haven't been able to finish. 

Maybe I've got the makings for a pearl after all.  

But if all I am is irritated and uncomfortable all the time, that won’t be enough. The key to pearl-making is that oysters continually layer that irritating grain of sand with a protective substance, and it's this that makes the sand lovely.

The repetition and continual layering on of something beautiful is what gives an ordinary grain of sand its worth. 

And so I keep at it. Layering thankfulness and hope onto my grains of sand. Seeking out the tiny details in my days where meaning lives. Snapping photos of them so I can remember. Making myself go on adventures outside of the house despite the fear that all hell will break loose. Persisting in setting aside time to do something I love, even for a few minutes. Doing that next thing, even when all I want to do is curl up in a ball under my bed covers and sleep.  

Over time I'm noticing that perhaps I do have some beauty and worth to offer. I've got layers of perseverance and patience and bravery, for this motherhood thing is not for the faint of heart.  

My eyes are also growing more accustomed to seeing the beauty and worth in this life too.  In the jubilant hugs and kisses from my oldest. In the gloriously fluffy hair of my youngest. In how I have the ability to teach my oldest kindness and selflessness. In the way my youngest gazes with wide eyes. In how raising kids together with my husband brings us closer in a way nothing else can. In how I am learning more about how God loves as I love them.

With each struggle, I layer and I understand a little more about what it means to be kind to myself, to give grace, to slow down.  

With each layer, I come closer and closer to a finished pearl.

Guest post written by Sara Smith. Sara is a journalism grad from the University of Florida and is currently putting her degree to use as a full-time mom to two little ladies.  She's married to an adventurous officer of the law, loves Jesus and can't say no to sour gummy worms.  She writes about motherhood, marriage and faith at Feathers & Roots, and you can also find her stringing her everyday pearls together on Instagram.

Photo by Emily Gnetz.

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