This Mother Theresa quote is near-ubiquitous, possibly platitudinous (?), but the other day, it appeared, mirage-like, in my thoughts and I carried it around with me for the better part of the day:
“Do small things with great love.”
Knowing that these words came from Mother Teresa, I am of course inclined to imagine the humble and wordless ministrations of a caregiver wiping crumbs from the face of a child, or preparing a bed with clean sheets and hospital corners. Small things, done with solicitousness.
By contrast, how often do I absolutely race through the process of preparing breakfast for my children prior to thoughtlessly — almost robotically — clearing their plates and shuffling the morning right along into its next phase? On the one hand, this sort of perfunctoriness is necessary: I keep the household moving, and ensure my children are fed, brushed, and clothed by the time I sit down to my desk at 9 a.m. And sometimes the rote is a gift, clearing needed mental space for undertaking other intellectual or emotional work: I can be pouring milk cups while also pondering the American Scholar article my father sent or ingesting the news. Beyond that, I am not so spacey as to think that there might be hidden joy or rivulets of love to be found in selecting a plate for my daughter’s breakfast, or what have you. But still — could I maneuver myself to a place where many of the daily responsibilities in my life are achieved with love rather than an occasionally begrudging sense of conscientiousness or rule-followership? What might that look like? I am thinking specifically of the way my mother packed my lunch: always with a little love note on the napkin in her loopy blue script; the napkin invariably, artfully folded on the diagonal. Even the fact that she took the time to fold the napkin just-so speaks to me today: the tiniest of kisses. I also think of the way she will often turn down the coverlet on the bed before bedtime, or offer me a soda alongside a cup of ice. Small things, done with great care and consideration. I think, too, of my husband: the way he warms my plate before dinner, and chills my glass before a cocktail, and never declines the opportunity to plate my meal and garnish it, too. The way he sets my coffee out, prepared the way I like it, so it’s waiting for me at my desk. The fact that he never ever neglects to wrap my gifts, giving thought to the presentation itself.
I think there are also ways to do small things for myself “with great love.” This will either resonate with you or confirm your suspicion that I am bizarre beyond belief, but it is not an infrequent occasion for me to be sitting at my desk, parched with thirst, but not willing to get up to fetch water for myself because I’m in the throes of work, or I will be rushing around trying to put things away after running a few errands or cleaning up the house and will not pause to use the rest room or feed myself lunch until absolutely everything is tidied, finished, taken to the garbage, etc. I suppose you can chalk it up to “completion desire”: I am so task-oriented that I would rather finish something in its entirety than interrupt the flow. But after reading the Mother Teresa quote the other day, I got up and poured myself a glass of water when I was thirsty and later, when bringing home a bunch of fresh flowers, actually took the time to enjoy arranging them in a vase versus rushing to clip them, get rid of the debris, and sprint to the next thing on my list. If I am sounding schmaltzy, forgive me. But these tiny decisions appear to me as a new and miniature mode of self-care: doing the smallest of things with love for myself.
+The perfect button-front sweatshirt in great colors — I shared a similar style for less a few days ago but like the cropped silhouette here, too.
+SUPER love the simple, retro-esque (Wendy Peffercorn-like?!) styling of this Gap suit in both the on-trend ditsy blue floral and solid pink.
+Absolutely stunning floral dress for $140 – sort of a combination between Horror Vacui and Cecilie Bahnsen?
+Adore this stationery, and recently came across an Etsy shop that creates fun frames with a similar design via Being Bridget.
+Cute and clever printable indoor scavenger hunt. Wish I’d come across this back during peak-quarantine days.
+Some other great indoor activities for littles here. I did all of these, many of them multiple times over…
+Speaking of the great indoors: an indoor shrimp BBQ you must try. Only you could also do it outdoors, with friends, now 🙂
+The cane detail on these shorts is amazing!
+Such a small thing, but we now have a bunch of different keys for our house, for my parents’ house, etc, and I am out of key rings! I found some cute ones at an Etsy shop, including this rose embroidered style and this throwback motel style.
+Also lusting after a Rimowa suitcase as my next investment whenever I travel…
+Love this dress in the sage green. The tiers make it!
+Just a reminder that these adorable blue gingham swim trunks are $10.
+And Janie and Jack marked down a ton of cute swim, including this precious lilac stripe swimsuit!
+While there: so wish this dress wasn’t sold out in mini’s size! The eyelet sleeves!!!
+Going to be needing a lot of new storage apparatus in our new home — I will have a walk-in pantry!
+Some of my favorite storage gear here.
+Ordered some extra silicon mats for the children. I find these a conveninent way to preserve our dinner table and catch spills, but my gripe is that they are a pain to dry after washing/wiping. I love that this set comes with those convenient cutouts so you can hang them from a hook.