Everything counts

Awhile ago, the kids and I were making jewelry. Spread out on the table were baubles of various sizes, their colors bouncing brilliantly back at us as the sun poured through the window. There’s a bead store that we really like to visit with so many bins to poke our hands into, feeling the beads’ heft and texture, admiring the rainbow of color. It’s important to me that we have quality materials in the house for our interests. How fun is it to create with paint brushes that fall apart leaving nylon hairs in your paint? Or in this case, plastic beads that have no sparkle or shine? So our table was indeed full of pretty light as we rummaged through the beads, creating bracelets and necklaces.

As I worked I kept coming back to the box of spacers, the little silver pieces that fill the gaps between the main beads that are meant to be showcased. These spacers were interesting to me. I liked their shapes and marveled at how small they were. I held them between my fingers and felt the rough edges of one that was shaped like a daisy and noticed the difference between the smooth round sphere in my other hand. When they are stacked in between the larger beads these spacers are barely noticed and certainly don’t call attention to themselves. They are simply there to hold the piece together or to give the beads some breathing room making the whole more beautiful. The more I looked at these little insignificant pieces, the more I liked them and wondered what they would look like if they were the stars of the show. I decided to make a ring.

I strung these spacers in a simple pattern on some flexible wire, just large enough to go around my index finger. The result was a unique piece that is a little uncomfortable to wear. The spacers stand on end and rest heavily on my skin. If I’m driving or otherwise applying pressure to my fingers, the ring leaves an impression. It’s one of my favorite pieces.

What I’m reminded of when I wear this ring is that everything counts. Even if it’s a bit uncomfortable or not very flashy. These seemingly insignificant and inconsequential bits are part of a larger, more beautiful whole. While they may not be completely necessary in some cases, they do serve a purpose and make the piece better and easier with which to work. Because of it’s heaviness on my finger I’m always aware of its presence. Always aware of the little things that are often forgotten or rarely noticed and appreciated. It’s a celebration of the importance of everything.

As I’m raising my kids it’s easy to forget that the spacers string our days and thus our years together. The way I turn up the radio really loudly on that one verse of that silly song every time we hear it? That’s important. The way I remember to take a bite of the apple to get it started before handing it over. The Dora the Explorer bandaids that I replace when I notice the box is nearly empty. The way I put the toys back in the same place so they are easily found. The ice cream cone I buy after each brave dental visit. The ballet tights that I keep clean and the fresh towels I put next to the bath, remembering who likes the crispy ones and who prefers the hoods.

I’m reminded of the parts I try not to focus on, the ones that aren’t very pretty at all. There are sharp pieces of my parenting life, too. The way I don’t always control my anger. The way I get tired of being “on” so often. The guilt I feel for wanting to pursue my passions without interruption. The confusion I have when I fail to keep someone happy. The sadness that I feel when nothing I do helps. I try to think that I don’t need these ugly occurrences in my life but the truth is that I use them to become a better mom. They challenge me to try harder, to think more creatively, to be more aware. When I seek out alternatives to what I would rather not have, I find a better way.

Everything counts. It’s what we do with it that makes the difference. How boring it would be if over time there were no variety? That everything was big and attention getting? It’s refreshing to sometimes have space between all the big stuff. After a day full of excitement I enjoy some downtime to relax and renew. Not every day or every moment needs to be stimulating and engaging. I need rest and time to process. Moving continuously from one grand thing to another equally sparkling can be exhausting. To support those days I build in days that are meant to be smaller and less dazzling. It allows me time to re-group and prepare for the next big thing.

This ring reminds me that I don’t have to be perfect. That there is a purpose and meaning and function to everything. Even if I’m not the most colorful, the largest, the most expensive bead in the box I still have a place. I matter, too. So I keep on trying, embracing all that I am, and all that I have: the good, the bad and the ugly. I’m grateful for the place-holders in my day that circle around to create cohesion and promote color. Without the spacers the sparkly beads wouldn’t have room to collect the sun and throw their colors about. My life is made better by all the little, overlooked pieces that make it all possible. So with this ring I celebrate it all.

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