Yes, the big stuff is important. Yes, it matters. The truth is that relationships are hard and It. All. Matters.
If you don’t sweat the small stuff, none of it will matter.
It’s the small stuff they’ll remember. One time, my partner and I picked little one up from a two week vacation. Since we knew she’d gone to some big, expensive show, we asked her what she’d done. “Played in the backyard,” she answered excitedly. That was what made her child mind happy.
It’s the little stuff that builds traditions. It’s traditions that foster memories. It’s telling your partners good night and good morning. It’s taking care of that task they asked you about, even if it’s small, because it’s important to them.
Growing up doesn’t mean we abandon our child minds, either. It’s almost always the small stuff that always makes us happy (and, you know, ability to pay rent and have a good job and other fairly “big” stuff. But when you’re a child, you hopefully don’t have these worries.)
I wish I could tell you that the big stuff mattered more.
It doesn’t seem quite fair, I suppose. You mess up time and time again. The day to day moments are dreadful. But then you plan these great, expensive trips. It’s a lot of effort. It should balance out, right?
I know how hard you work on the “big” stuff. Why shouldn’t that count? I can logically reason with myself that the good should always count. That we ought to dismiss the bad. I wish I could tell you life was fair— and perhaps, in one sense, it is painfully fair. Fair or not, that’s not how human memory works. It doesn’t remember every bad and good thing that happens.
There’s this quote from Bojack Horseman that keeps playing in my mind,
“All I know about being good, I learned from TV. And in TV, flawed characters are constantly showing people they care with these surprising grand gestures. And I think that part of me still believes that’s what love is. But in real life, the big gesture isn’t enough. You need to be consistent, you need to be dependably good. You can’t just screw everything up and then take a boat out into the ocean to save your best friend, or solve a mystery, and fly to Kansas. You need to do it every day, which is so… hard.”Bojack Horseman, S5E6, “Free Churro”
Indeed, it is hard. But you’ve just got to do it. Because they matter to you. Because it’s okay to not be perfect and to not be there for someone Every. Single. Day. But the more you are there for them- more often than not, although this isn’t a hard and fast truth– the greater the strength of the relationship. Because at the end of the day, that’s what makes the difference. The grand gestures are great, but you can always spend money on some big ticket event.
This is what life is about. The small stuff. The little moments that fill in between the big moments.