When I was 5, I fulfilled one of my life-long goals: we went to Disneyland. I don’t remember a whole lot about it now, more just snatches of memory and delight, but this I do know, it was all-round awesome.
Earlier this week, however, I talked over the experience with my mother, and her memory was quite different. She said something like, yeah it didn’t go that well, you were both so tired because of the jet lag, you just wanted to be sleeping. We were on our way to Norway you see, and Disneyland was a side trip. I guess we were tired, and I bet I melted down multiple times, and I’m sure I was hard work – but I don’t remember any of that! For me, it was one of the highlights of my short life.
I’m so glad I had this conversation with my mum early this week, because over this week we’ve had more than our fair share of memory-making experiences that have simultaneously been hard work.
We’ve spent the week in Auckland at Shout conference, and it was great. But doing conference with family is, um, not always the easiest. Especially when the littlest family member is unwell and then forgets how to sleep, and I’m walking around like a zombie with zero filter and dark circles under my eyes. And it’s all so very public. The older kids love love love the program, but it’s full on, and they’re a bunch of introverts.
Tired kids + tired mum = the occasional meltdown (by all involved).
But I’ve been determined to make memories, to enjoy some out of the ordinary moments.
I haven’t yet read Chip & Dan Heath’s book The Power of Moments (it’s on the list, it’s a long list), but I have listened to Chip chat to Craig Groeschel about it on his podcast. Certain brief moments stick in our memory way more than others, and they are worth the effort and intentionality it takes to create them.
But too often I’m stuck in a poverty mentality – but not of finance, of time and energy. In the story I’m telling myself, I’m just getting by getting the necessary things done, and anything extra is in the too-hard basket.
But when I do stir myself up and take the tribe on an adventure, it’s worth it – even if there are meltdowns, even if I resort to that low threatening voice and the glare of steel that says “you’d better behave” (if you’re a mum, you know what I’m talking about), even if someone falls over and hurts themself, even if they whinge about having to walk/wait/whatever, even if… who am I kidding, it’s not “if”, it’s “when”.
On the second to last night of conference I was back at our apartment as the three youngest kids were getting an early night, so I threw myself a wee pity party (always poorly attended). I had a good whinge to God about why bringing the kids to conference was so hard, and how it wasn’t fair, and how I wasn’t going to do it ever again (I’m sure you can imagine the tone of voice I was using). Then I stopped mid-whinge, because from the other room I heard a little girl singing. Yeah, she should have been sleeping, but her song, oh my heart! It was the sweetest purest worship, lyrics so unpretentious, so heartfelt. And I remembered that this is why we do it, and booked my tickets for next year.
The hard work and the hard parts don’t invalidate the experience. It doesn’t have to be a well-ordered, neat, package to have been worth it. It doesn’t have to all work well. Shush now perfectionism.
Maybe the whole thing seemed a disaster to you, but what the kids remember is the highlights. And some of those moments stick forever.