The joys of life, and particularly of motherhood, come and go in the moments. If we let those moments slip by without any recognition of them, we might find it more difficult to enjoy this journey. Someone once told me that when the sweet moments come, we need to breathe them in long and deep. As a mother of three small children, I’ve loved that advice. It is what I try to do: savor the moment, let time stop, and breathe it in long and deep, because in another moment it will be gone.
I love when I awake to the pitter-patter of little feet scampering down the hall. Within seconds a little body is climbing into bed with me. Before I know it another little person joins, and then the baby cries, because he senses he is missing something. I get him out of his crib and we head back to my bed. Then all five of us spend just a few minutes cuddling and tickling each other, while the baby crawls all over us. I take a deep breath and hold on to this perfect moment, looking over at my husband and thinking, “It doesn’t get better than this.”
At the end of the day, I absolutely love the moment right before I go to bed, when I pause in the doorway of each room and watch my kids as they peacefully sleep. The problems of the day melt away as I feel an overwhelming amount of love for those perfect little people. I yearn to just scoop up their tiny bodies and hold them in my arms. But I know better than to wake them, because I’m so tired myself. The time passes, the clock ticks, and if I don’t get to bed, tomorrow will come too soon. Once again the moment is gone.
Of course there are other moments–moments with tired and whining kids, moments when I am reduced to tears. Moments when I am overwhelmed, sleep-deprived, hurt, inadequate, or at my wits’ end. But those are just moments too. I remind myself that they pass just as quickly as other moments do (although it doesn’t always feel that way), and I try not to breath those ones in too long or too deep.
Last night, my mind was filled with some of life’s frustrations as I hurried to get some semblance of dinner on the table. I was slicing cheese for our gourmet meal of grilled cheese sandwiches, and the chaos around me was grating on my nerves. I couldn’t help but notice the black grime that covered the burners of my stove and the dirty dishes in the sink. I felt overwhelmed with a laundry list of things that needed to get done.
I decided not to allow the heaviness of it all settle on me. This is just a moment too, and I don’t have to breathe it in and hang on to it. I can let it pass.
Surprisingly, I then noticed my sweet toddler son had pulled up a stool to stand beside me. It didn’t take me long to see what his intentions were. I had laid out several pieces of bread for the sandwiches, and each time I placed a slice of cheese on a piece of bread within his reach, it would suddenly disappear. As quickly as I replaced it, my son would just as quickly snatch it up again. This happened again and again.
I recognized this as a moment I wanted to savor. I looked beyond the messy house and his sticky face. I watched his satisfaction as he enjoyed each piece of stolen cheese. I then began to notice the giggles echoing from my daughters, as they ran circles around the kitchen table. I loved the happiness in their voices. The chaos that had previously ruffled me had become endearingly mine.
It’s like photographs. For each picture where everyone is perfectly posed and smiling at the camera, there are a dozen more with heads turned and grumpy faces. We sift through those pictures to find the happiest one. That is the one we hang on the wall in our living room. That is the one we choose to send out on our Christmas cards. There is something inherent in us that wants to be happy; we want the good in life to be magnified. It is the same with moments. As mothers, we can choose which moments we will enlarge and treasure.
I once came across a sign that said, “While in the pursuit of happiness, one should stop and just be happy.” For me this sums it up. Because the truth is, moments are fleeting and minutes soon turn into memories. I want the sweet moments of motherhood to be breathed in, savored, and always remembered.
Question: What can you do to “breathe in” your good moments?
Challenge: If you are tempted to dwell in a negative moment today, decide instead to let it pass you by.