I learned this term, wabi sabi, completely by accident a few weeks ago while reading about trends on Etsy. I suppose it’s fitting that I learned it in a haphazard random sort of way when you consider it’s meaning. Wabi sabi is a Japanese philosophy; a way of looking at the world. It focuses on finding beauty in the imperfections of life and peacefully accepting them, even celebrating them. For example in Japan when pottery breaks they repair it and fill the cracks with gold. The cracks have become a unique piece of the items history. The object has become more beautiful having been broken.
What if we applied this philosophy to motherhood?
Everyday as mothers we break our bodies in service to our families. It sounds harsh but it’s not out of obligation. It’s the natural process of motherhood. We stretch to carry our babies, whether physically during pregnancy or emotionally during adoption. We lose sleep, and gain dark circles. I currently sport fresh bite marks from a teething eight month old. Some parts of our bodies get larger, some hang lower, some are permanently marked. Once we see these little parts of our hearts walking around outside our bodies even our emotions are no longer our own. We plan, we pray, we would do anything to protect them.
Our bodies reflect the greatest work.
As mothers, we wear our accomplishments on our sleeves, or should I say stomachs, or faces, or chests. We are symbols of pure love. Those circles under our eyes mean we’ve been quietly rocking little ones in the darkness while building their sense of security. The bruises on my knees mean I’ve been crawling on the floor with my two year old. Bite marks mean my teething breastfed baby is being held. Look at those stretch marks and picture them filled with gold. Your body is more beautiful having been marked and stretched, and now it tells the story of your love for your children.
Our homes reflect our priorities.
Consider just how perfect the imperfections are! The bottom three feet of my walls show handprints and the occasional crayon mark. The floors are never clean even having been washed the same day. And that little boy smell; is it just me, or does it magically regenerate post-bath time no matter the scrubbing involved? Signs of happy kids! Yes I could lock up the crayons to avoid the wall marks but then I’d limit my kids creative outlets. I could obsess over my floors or see the crumbs as signs of happy meal-times and the scuff marks as reminders of excited feet running to play in the backyard. The floor still needs to be cleaned occasionally, but when my daughter drops a full smoothie on a freshly washed floor, I could either get mad and stressed or see it as an opportunity to enjoy the imperfection of life and give her grace.
As a way of encouraging you (and really myself as well) to embrace and even celebrate the daily imperfections of our motherhood journey, here are some more wabi sabi perspectives:
- Torn pages in your kids new books? Your kids have books! And they are being used!
- Holes in your flower beds made my little hands? Give them seeds and let them watch new things grow.
- Don’t make the bed, cuddle in it instead.
- Your daughters favorite dress is starting to fade? Rejoice in all the fun she had that required it to be washed over and over.
- Chipped paint on your little boys bedroom furniture? Picture all the fun he has driving toy cars across it.
- Look at those tiny hand prints on your sliding glass door made while having fun after a rain storm and be happy for outdoor play.
- Chipped dinner plates = meals spent with people you love.
- A car backseat populated by a school of goldfish crackers is proof of snack time on the way to new adventures together.
- Piles of laundry means you’ve been active! Making memories and getting things done. Plus you have clothes.
- Lopsided boobs, or a sink full of bottles to wash = a fed baby.
Let’s accept the happy chaos peacefully and enjoy these little mess makers we’ve been blessed to raise.
How will you embrace the imperfections of your day and become a wabi sabi mommy?
About the author:
After facing infertility, stillbirth, adoption, and two surprise pregnancies you can now find Kristen happily covered in kids and blogging at Arrows & Applesauce. Homeschool, adoption, and motherhood are favorite topics, that is of course after in-depth discussions of the most recent Daniel Tiger episode with her four year old. She fancies herself super-mom but only if her Superman husband is by her side. Join the fun and follow along as they raise their arrows. Find Arrows & Applesauce on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.