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The Little Things

February 13, 2015

Written by Marykate O’Malley, mother of three wonderful children, Gladwyne PA 


Before I had children I thought it would be the big things that would do me in – the dreaded head lice tearing through the house, emergency room visits, or having your three children, under the age of three, requiring nebulizer treatments every 30 minutes. But really, it was fine.

It is the little things that cause the fissures and fractures along the seams of life. The quiet unsuspecting things like, oh dare I say, shopping carts. Or how my youngest is reading 9 chapter books, from 3 different libraries, with varying due dates. Or remembering who is bringing in the 2 tins of whipped cream, the 24 vanilla unfrosted cupcakes, and who brings in the prizes for the Valentines Day party.



Little things like frequently forgetting to close the door when the temperature is hovering in the teens, and winter coats. Coats dropped at the front door on the invisible coat rack that everyone sees but me. Lying there like the witch after she melted in the Wizard of Oz, only clothing remaining in a limp shape resembling a body. We walk around the coats, or over them, as if they weren’t there.

I have had to dismantle every electronic in the house, pack them and bring them with me, into the car and out of the house – the x box, wii, ipads and ipods like contraband thrust into an over sized bag and removed.  Yes, I have faced the wrath of children, over stimulated with video games, and the carnage left in it’s wake. I have faced down the demons of serving broccoli and green vegetables. I have walked through that dark and silent night where cauliflower is served at dinner, and dessert withheld. I have lived through “but all my friends” and stood firm without relenting. I have faced the darkness of this world, and lived.

Once I sent my daughters to school with the wrong lunches in their backpacks. My oldest unpacked a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat, without the crusts and had to leave her classroom, roam the halls of their elementary school to her sisters classroom for the exchange. The food? Inedible. My oldest retrieved her ham and cheese with mayo on whole wheat (with crusts) and all was well in the universe. In a strange way this little exchange brought me great comfort. Lunches are little things, the comfort is knowing when unforeseen events unfold, they will sort it out themselves.

Little things like a small voice saying, “Mommy will you read to me?” and suddenly everything comes into focus and coats are irrelevant. Or being called into a separate room and given a Valentine because she wanted no distractions. All that remains is the deliberate and grand importance of that moment. Little things like noticing stuffed animals loving placed on the couch, under a blanket, while you go off to school, and the ache of love is almost too great to bear. It’s the little things that make me pause, and embrace this life, rich with living.



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  1. Anne Schenendorf

      on February 14, 2015 7:18 am

    MaryKate I love this!!!!! It’s so true! That little voice saying Mommy will you read to me become the song of your soul right? And lunches really do matter. Motherhood changes us and as you say, into focus. I loved this and love you!!!!!


  2. Marykate

      on February 23, 2015 9:34 pm

    Nothing like the little reality checks through out the day – of what is really important. Love hearing Mommy will you read to me – one of my most favorite phrases ever. Sigh. Love you sweet sis!


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