The microwave beeps: her neck warmer is ready. A spoon clanks against an open mug, as the dark roast coffee swirls with French vanilla creamer and sugar. Still in a robe, she gathers these items and whisks them away to her bedroom. She has devotionals to read, journaling to do, and peace and quiet to enjoy before the noise and pressures of the day encroach. Conversation, chores, and email can all wait.
My mom has started her day like this for as long as I can remember. I once rolled my eyes at the seeming rigidity of it all but now, as an adult, I’m inspired, and have been asking myself the question:
What is the difference between a routine and a ritual?
I tend to enter routines begrudgingly. Dishes after meals, weekly sheet changes, and the scramble before trash night happen because they must. I too drink coffee in the mornings, but only after diaper changes, breakfast fixing, and in a travel mug because it won’t possibly stay warm otherwise. I even read devotionals but not in a carved-out time that I can look forward to and savor.
In short, I have routines—and some I even enjoy—but I’m lacking with my own rituals.
As a mom of young children, my day often feels like it’s not my own. I’m playing defense, and if I don’t guard some of my time and cultivate interests that energize me outside of my children, I’m aware that I’ll have nothing left to give.
I picture my own mom in the weeds with me and my brother—trading independence for the routines and mundane tasks that motherhood requires, and away from family (like me). Before self-care was all the rage, she was quietly creating a ritual for herself.
What habits of mine will my daughters look back on with fondness when they’re older? I’ve often thought the best parenthood advice I can give has nothing to do with parenting. It’s about making sure you are on solid ground, that you can be happy with your own actions and daily life knowing that a little person is holding onto it all.
This Mother’s Day, let’s find some protected time of our own and choose to fill our cups.
Of course in my mom’s case, that literal cup would be a coffee mug, and I think it could say with equal accuracy, “Don’t talk to me until this mug is empty,” and “World’s Best Mom.”
What habits of your own mom do you now appreciate? Tell us…and her!