Curating Inspiration: Escaping the Mundane with Children’s Literature

I’m currently loving this beautiful, challenging, and joyful gig as a stay-at-home mama. And while I wouldn’t trade it for anything, I’ll be the first to admit that being a parent to little ones can feel, at times, utterly exhausting.

As parents to young children, we’ve got so much on our shoulders. First we must address their basic needs, all those essentials like meals, laundry, snacks, baths, snacks, doctor’s appointments, diaper changes — did I mention snacks? These fundamentals can feel overwhelming, particularly during that first year of life, and especially because the bar for today’s parents has been set sky-high. Many are aspiring to provide nutritious, organic, homemade meals, coupled with non-toxic personal care products, and environmentally-friendly (but still developmentally robust) toys. Tired yet?

My daughter, the cutest, but messiest eater of all time!

And I suspect most parents would agree that not all of the aforementioned tasks are inherently inspiring. Yesterday, when on my hands and knees wiping up a sticky food mess from underneath my daughter’s high chair (for the fourth time that day), for what feels like the 1,000th day in a row, I couldn’t help but wonder: “What am I doing with my life?”

In moments like these, it can be hard for me to see beyond the next mundane task. So when I’m tempted to question my relevance, it helps me to re-focus on the more rewarding aspects parenting, our roles as educators, nurturers, and spiritual guides.

“What am I doing with my life?” I’m shaping hearts and minds! It’s not always glamorous, but it’s important, purposeful work.

For me, nothing more beautifully embodies these formative roles than the experience of reading to my children. Of all the varied tasks I complete as a parent, reading is one of my favorites!

There’s just nothing like scooping that sweet little one onto your lap for a story. Cuddled close and completely connected, we explore a new world together. With their wonder and delight, my children nourish my soul. These are the precious moments that make me wish my children would never grow-up! I’ll change dirty diapers and clean mucky floors forever in exchange for more moments like these.

And while I enjoy sharing a variety of books with my children, new as well as old, there is something about reading the older classics that I find particularly magical…Maybe it’s the slower pacing that encourages me to slow down too. Perhaps it’s the richer vocabulary that stimulates my mind as well as my little one’s? Maybe it’s the feelings of nostalgia these books evoke from my own childhood? Whatever the reason, it’s an experience that never fails to inspire.

Reading also connects me to the women who came before me. Both my mother and her mother share a great love of children’s literature. As I read these classics to my own children, I can almost hear the echo my mother’s (much younger) voice as she did the same for me, and I can imagine her hearing the echo of her own mother’s voice in turn.

Left: A worn, much-loved copy of Beatrix Potter’s ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit,’ gifted by my mother to my siblings and me, Christmas of 1985; Right: A newer copy gifted by my mother, to my son, on his first birthday.

Many of the books that I read to my children were selected and gifted by these women. We cherish opening the book’s title page, to read the personalized inscription awaiting. Discussing where each book came from, and why it was so thoughtfully selected for my child, feels exceedingly special.

As someone who craves order, I would love nothing more than to enjoy a clean and tidy home at all moments of the day. But children are messy. And when I reflect upon how to be purposeful with my time, I know I’m better off investing it elsewhere. I’ll never regret the time spent reading to my children. It’s a quietly rich legacy, overlooked by many, but not by me, and not by my children.

So if there’s a mucky breakfast mess on your floor right now, maybe consider saving it for after lunch. Grab a book and cuddle-up; an inspiring moment awaits.

Looking to discover or re-discover some classic picture books with a special child in your life? Explore some of my favorite classic reads here: Curating Literature: Delightful Classics for Little One’s Library (Ages 3-5).

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