Sometimes life can seem so full of mundanities: getting up, going to work, getting children out to school on time, eating, housework, looking after children, going about your daily business and so on. Each day can feel the same and time passes quickly. One week turns into a month and seasons change before our eyes. And you wonder: Am I making a difference?
You most likely are. Even when you don’t realise it.
It’s often the everyday events that change lives. One little idea, one smile, one hug, can make a huge difference to someone else. It is in the talking everyday to your child in the car that builds up a strong relationship that will last a lifetime. It’s in the keeping the routines that your children grow up feeling secure and loved. It’s in the going to work everyday that you build up character and faithfulness and in the looking after young babies that you get to know and understand the uniqueness of each of your children. It’s in the everyday things that you are making a difference.
I’m a stay at home mum with two preschool children. They both have special needs. My everyday life is full of mundanities. Everyday can be the same mix of eating, washing dishes, playing with children, cleaning, washing children, dressing children, changing nappies, taking them to activities, ensuring they get to and from nursery and doing the same bedtime routine night after night after night. I often feel I am not getting anywhere or making any difference. This can feel so much worse because of my children’s developmental delay and autism. I can feel trapped by their insistence on sameness and lack of progress. It can get boring reading the exact same bedtime story every night.
But then they achieve something. Sometimes just a tiny little thing. Sometimes something quite amazing and significant. And you realise you are making a difference to a life.
For four and half years I have taken my children shopping. My daughter now understands basic concepts like choosing a product, having to wait until you have paid for it before it becomes yours, handing items over to cashiers to be paid for and even that coins, pieces of paper or plastic cards can be used as payments for items you want. I can see through her play that she can use a toy till and role play being a customer or cashier. But my son has just sat in a trolley seat for 4 and a half years staring into space…until this week. This week he reached out for an item when shopping, held the item around the store and then…to my amazement…placed the item onto the conveyer belt at the checkout to pay for it! He screamed for the item to be returned very quickly into his possession but he is learning slowly. He still can’t yet form a point or say the words required to ask for something but he is slowly becoming more aware of the world around him. He knew the item he wanted had to be paid for and that you put it on a belt and then get it back. He has been taking all this in while staring at the ceiling lights for 4 and a half years!
We are making a difference to him. His nursery teachers are making a difference. His speech therapist is making a difference. Taking him to church and clubs every week is making a difference. Our everyday life is slowly helping him progress.
Another new thing he is now doing is holding whatever is in his hands up and looking at us. Speech therapists refer to it as showing joint interest. He is wanting feedback from us. He is wanting to know what something is, or perhaps what colour it is or what it does. He is aware of us so much more! He sees we can teach him something. He wants to share something that interests him with me. Wow! Parents so often take these tiny things as so trivial but in my world these stages are beautiful moments worthy of excitement and mention. It doesn’t matter what it is he is showing me. It doesn’t matter how chewed it is or how obscure it is. He showed me a label off of a pair of socks today several times. I would have discarded without thought but to him it held interest and he wanted me to share in that interest. So I looked at his label with him and told him countless times that it was a label. We are interacting.
Don’t get too weary and bogged down in the little things of life or the mundanities of everyday tasks. Whether you are working in an office, a cashier in a shop, a bus driver, a teacher, a nurse, a student or a stay at home mum, you are making a difference to someone. Someone needs to see your smile, be encouraged by your achievements, have a hug or just simply hear your voice. The everyday things matter and progress, no matter how small, is always a step in the right direction. Your life is making a difference. And I am encouraged by everyone of you who cares enough to read this. You have made a difference to me. Thank you x