From the Nest: Making the Mundane Exceptional
Back to school. It brings a backpack full of mixed emotions. Excitement and readiness for routine (our family thrives with that). Nervousness about new classmates, new teachers, and new schedules.
Basically, we all get super excited over the new pencils, backpacks, cute water bottles, planners (my favorite!) and get ourselves geared up for….
the same thing.
For the students, sure, it’s a different classroom, different teachers, maybe some new students in the class. But basically, 180 days of a lot of the same thing. On repeat.
As a teacher, and especially as a preschool teacher, no day is really the same. Literally. I can always count on the very tiny people in my classroom to make the day interesting, whether in a good or bad way.
I love teaching. My career will never require me to be sitting at a desk doing exactly the same thing for any work day of the entire year. Every day has new challenges, new things to laugh (and cry) about, and overall, just a lot of fun to be had!
But can I be super honest? As the days approached for this school year, I found myself kicking and screaming on the inside.
On the first day of school, we had a little student who was less than excited for school. In fact, although I could tell this kiddo really wanted to play, there was also a lot of very age-appropriate apprehension about leaving Mommy and Daddy. This bright kiddo went so far as to try and negotiate us to get the school bus because they really just wanted to go home. Fortunately for us and sadly for this cutie, our school doesn’t have a bus. Out of luck. Haha!
(The child ended up having a fabulous day and was excited to come back the next day. It all worked out!)
Truth be told, I felt a little the same though. Not at all because I don’t love the school, my students, the classroom, or even the whole idea of teaching. I actually do still really want to be a teacher and I really do love my job, even after 17 years.
But those 17 years of teaching have taught me to expect the excitement of the new year to wear off and difficult days to pop up from time to time. I know the exhaustion that will await me on Friday afternoon at 2:45 p.m. and the nerves that will hit me on Sunday at about 5:00 p.m.
I just wasn’t ready for that. Not quite yet.
Honestly, it still feels like we, as teachers, are carrying the weight of the world from last year. Eight weeks of summer “break” just wasn’t quite enough.
I found myself just not quite ready for the “mundane”.
Then I was reminded of a quote from one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp.
“Sometimes doing the most important thing eternally doesn’t look like you’re doing anything noticeably.”
And there it is. I think most of us have a desire to make a difference, to do something that really counts. We look at the movers and shakers in the world and at least I am tempted to feel that I can never make a big difference for anyone in the mundane tasks of my everyday living.
And I got to thinking…what if I turn mundane into a positive?
The New Oxford American Dictionary defines mundane as “lacking interest or excitement; dull.”
So how can we make mundane a positive in our lives?
Well, “normal” is a synonym for mundane. That should be a positive in and of itself. I think most of us have found ourselves longing for more “normal” over the past 18 months.
- What if I made gratitude normal in my life?
- What if I made giving normal in my life?
- What if I made contentment normal in my life?
- Or…rest, peace, and focusing on the good?
- What if I were to be intentionally faithful on making each of those things part of my normal, everyday life?
Mundane? I don’t think so.
It’s an intentional reset and refocus, but it’s not really so impossible when you actually give pause in your day and look around at all you have to thank God for.
So maybe you are jet-setting around the world, being a mover and shaker for good. Amazing. But maybe you’re at home changing diapers and trying to think of something to fix for dinner that fits in the budget this week. Maybe you’re headed into that office job to do paperwork that no one seems to care much about. Maybe you’re caring for an elderly loved one and the grieving has already begun. Maybe you’re just doing the same thing you did yesterday, the day before that, and the weeks, months, years before that.
And maybe you can turn your “mundane” into everyday faithfulness for what God has asked of you in this season.
So tomorrow, I head into my classroom, still doing all the things that I always do, but with a determination to reset and to view my “mundanes” as blessings and my “normal” as an incredible gift.