You’ve seen the pictures. Pictures of perfect families. Pictures of amazing science experiments. Pictures of sports victories and performance successes. Pictures of kids reading quietly or eating properly. Pictures of enriching field trips, and fabulous vacations. Pictures of perfectly organized shelves or perfectly decorated rooms. They jump out at us on social media and on mantle pieces.
Sometimes I am tempted to despise those other moms – those moms whose kids could all sit still and smile. Those moms whose kids could do ballet or play soccer. Those moms who had an organized home or a color-coordinate closet. Because I convince myself that if they met me, they would despise me. My heart cries out in my defense, “I’m trying! I’m doing the best I can with what I have!”
But, Mama, I’m here to tell you, that the best thing those mothers have going for them isn’t in their pictures. In fact, the best thing you have going for you isn’t in your pictures either. It isn’t even something you can capture in a picture. The most beautiful thing about your home is your words.
Every day you exchange thousands of words with your children. You sympathize over frustrations and disappointments. You ask questions about their dreams and their make-believe play. You regale them with stories about your childhood and amaze them with interesting facts about nature. You remind, you encourage, you whisper and you laugh. They hear your words as you pray with them and for them.
Our words seem thin and insubstantial, evaporating invisibly as soon as they are out of our mouths. But in fact, our words are the most solid, sturdy and substantial thing that we can give to our children. Socrates said “Speak so that I may see you.” Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
Words – not images- are the primary means for sharing our souls. Our words build trust and our words knit hearts together. Words are the exchange currency of relationships.
So what about those posts? Are they fake? Are they hollow? Not at all. They are glimpses of gratitude. Little points of light. In a world where so many things are beyond our control, where things often do not go as planned, when disappointments and sorrows abound, we gravitate towards the beautiful and we want to share that beauty with others. On a hectic day, a little girl painting with water colors is a soothing sight. A child mastering the pogo stick or beating Daddy in chess is an occasion for celebration! So when you see the pictures another mother shares, don’t be overwhelmed or intimidated. Remind yourself that your words are more important than your pictures, and rejoice with her in her little glimpse of gratitude!