I read my first three issues of Seeing the Everyday in the hospital on April 22 of this year as I was preparing to have our fourth child and first son. I was so thoroughly affected by Seeing’s simple stories that within just a few days after delivery, I made some new commitments and completely changed the paradigm through which I was seeing my world and my roles as a wife and mother.
I believe I was so profoundly influenced because my own childhood was not characterized by the beauty of shared family work. Moreover, when I became a mother of toddlers who wanted to help me with everything, I found myself constantly irritated that I couldn’t get things done as quickly as I wanted to and so frustrated that if I did give in and let them help me, they would inevitably create more of a mess than what I started with. I would spend a large part of my day playing with the children and letting them direct and lead the play, which was satisfying, but it also left me resentful at times because the rest of the day seemed to go so badly. I was often confused, wondering why I felt so burned out of my roles. I felt no sense of meaning in my daily work. I was great at sweeping up messes six times a day off the kitchen floor, but I dreaded it and thought I was wasting my college degree and my own personal potential as well.
Seeing helped me find a new way of experiencing the choice I made to have children and raise them. While change does not happen quickly, it does happen, and after spending hours reading issues 15–17 from cover to cover, I felt like I finally got it. I realized I could make meaning out of all the mundane tasks I have to do, day in and day out. I could involve my three girls and instead of becoming frustrated with them, enjoy the interaction as a beautiful entity by itself, and cherish my time with them, no matter if the task took longer or didn’t end up perfectly done.
This past week, I let the girls help me with their tiny newborn brother’s bath. It was a sweet experience, although at times the baby was in danger of getting a little more intensely washed than he had anticipated. There was more water and soap to clean up, and it was a bit stressful for me to try something new, but the results were so worth it.
This bath really marks the start of a new story for me—or, perhaps better said, a change in the story of my own life. I know it is also the start of a change I hope my girls will one day feel the effects of, even if they have no memory of that day. I have no doubt my parents did the best they could and improved from how they were raised by my grandparents. I am glad that I can now make some changes and improve things even just a little more for my own children.
Kristen Ridge ( mother of four ) email to Seeing the Everyday