“…when you run out of hours…you wonder if anything worth doing got done.” —“One Heartbeat at a Time,” Steven Curtis Chapman
I thought I would spend this past Mother’s Day morning with someone else’s kids, but things don’t always work out how you plan.
I stepped into the church nursery and spent the first few minutes organizing wooden blocks and separating coloring books from picture books.
When I heard the processional music over the speaker in the wall that allows nursery workers to hear the service, I peeked out the door to see a few stragglers heading into the sanctuary.
With no kids to be seen, I turned back to take the Hot Wheels out of the plastic kitchen toys tub, and the plastic kitchen toys out of the blocks tub. I figured I would do some light housekeeping and set out a few toys for the kids I assumed would show up.
A few minutes later, it was still just me and some Little People on the floor with an Elmo puzzle. Yes, I did the puzzle and may or may not have made a couple of the People dance.
By the time the greeting came over the speaker, sitting alone with toys on the floor crossed over to awkward. It was obvious I wasn’t going to have playmates, at least for now.
At that point, I turned up the speaker and grabbed a notebook from my bag. This was the perfect chance to jot down some notes for a column or two or maybe make a grocery list to pass the time.
When you know you have nursery duty, it’s only natural to psych yourself up a little beforehand. You’re ready to crawl around on the floor or roll some balls across the room. But I didn’t hear any little bodies running around this time. The silence, when you expect the noise, is a bit of a letdown.
But, as it is with silence vs. noise, give it a few minutes to sink in and it’s not all bad. I adjusted and started writing.
Soon though, stories began to come across the speaker about mothers, grandmothers, makeshift mothers, figurative mothers and how they—let’s be honest—run and/or change the world. Daily.
Then came songs I had never heard about mothers, accompanying a Mother’s Day slideshow that I couldn’t see.
It was one of those times when you don’t expect to be caught up in the moment that you are. It wasn’t sappy or particularly sentimental. More of a narrated impromptu mini-retreat in a little room. With a door. That is closed.
The longer I sat there kid-free, through the music and then the children’s sermon where the kids were asked to say all of the words that reminded them of Mom, the more I began to recognize this hour was my Mother’s Day gift. It wasn’t just time alone, which my personality and productivity demand if they are expected to function. It was a few minutes alone on this particular morning—Mother’s Day morning—with the freedom to not just relax, but hear.
I’m as ready as the next person for a block of time when a decision or a bed doesn’t have to be made, but it doesn’t need to be an extended period of time that only leaves you wishing for more time.
Forty-five minutes in a church nursery, where I didn’t hear a single sound outside of the service through an overhead speaker, was just enough.