Editor’s Note: The Power of Moms is a website for mothers of all religions (and for mothers who are not necessarily religious). Each Sunday, we post a spiritual essay, and we would love to gather a wide variety of perspectives and ideas. Our goal is to be respectful of all beliefs while simultaneously offering opportunities to share meaningful, spiritual thoughts with one another.
Everywhere I turn in our home there are signs that a new season has arrived. In the pantry hangs our list of parks and museums to visit beside our newly printed chore charts. In the boys room, I step over a big basket bursting with recently checked out library books about bugs, insects and dinosaurs. In the kitchen, the freezer door opens and shuts countless times as little hands reach for popsicles while towels dry in the breeze near a puddle of water and mud which collects each afternoon as three children slip and slide through our grassy yard. These are marked changes from just a few weeks ago when our table was covered with homework assignments and our afternoons were kept busy with baseball practices.
A new season has caused me to adjust our routine and think differently about what and how we will fill our days. With a little reservation, I welcome a new season for this very reason. Successfully altering routines and adapting to new demands which come with the onset of a new season can be daunting. In fact, I find it requires my best creativity, focus, and patience.
Life is filled with many seasons. Motherhood brings with it its own seasons—each offering different experiences, challenges, and certainly changes. In fact, from the moment they find out they are pregnant, mothers enter a realm with many seasons that can contrast as much as Paris in the spring and Minnesota in the winter. Mention the word “season” to a group of mothers and some will think of the dreaded flu season which has her in the pediatrician’s office more than usual; others will think of the cute holiday decorations they just saw in a Martha Stewart magazine; some will think in terms of the ball season which has them cheering on the little leaguers each Saturday; and still another might think of the tax season which keeps her husband working long hours away at the office.
Just as with new seasons of the year, I find the seasons of motherhood offer new challenges and opportunities for joy if I can exercise patience and creativity. I remember well the advice friends and family gave at the baby shower for my first child. Grandma told me that during the coming years of having young children I could expect about 15 minutes of any given hour to get something done or to do something for myself. I soon found that Grandma was right. I gradually learned how to adjust my time and resources to accomplish housework, exercise, freelance work, and other things that needed to get done besides tending the baby.
As additional children joined the family, the adjustments continued as I had more people to care for and less time in which to do it. Finding time to accomplish my own goals became difficult. Instead of exercising outdoors, I found myself doing workout videos or walking on the treadmill. Naptime, which allowed me to do my freelance work, disappeared as my children grew older and no longer needed naps. I had to become creative at occupying my children with activities that gave me snippets of time to do my work. There was more changing and adaptation as my children went through developmental and behavioral changes—sometimes a few months felt like a life time when my children went through a “hair pulling” or “hitting’ phase. Other months and even years have passed much faster as they’ve matured.
Most recently, I have come to my greatest understanding of seasons of motherhood. Unfortunately, I gained my wisdom the hard way. I pushed myself harder than I should have trying to accomplish more than I could. During the past year I found myself stressed and overwhelmed on many occasions as I attempted to care for the kids while trying to serve someone else. Making a fancy meal for someone else proved a disaster on more than one occasion as I ended up making a huge mess of the kitchen and then had nothing to feed my hungry children who I’d already neglected for a few hours. Trying to keep up my freelance work on the side had me feeling significant guilt when I simply couldn’t find the time while now juggling homework for an older child, playtime with younger children, meals and school carpools. Unable to keep up with my own expectations, I was often upset with myself and eventually reached “the breaking point.” It was then I forced myself to internalize the quote which is hanging on my fridge by Ardeth G. Kapp which says, “We are not good judges of ourselves when we reach for goals which are meant for other seasons of our lives.”
Perhaps, I realized, I needed to accept the fact that this is not my season for making complete meals for others or for being employed part-time. While those are worthy goals and some mothers may have energy for them, it’s okay if I don’t right now. There are other ways I can show kindness to others in this season, and there will be many years when I will more easily be able to make someone a meal. There will also be years when I will be able to resume my freelance work.
I now recognize that the seasons of my life will come and go just as surely as this summer has come and will eventually turn to fall. Right now I am in a season of life which requires me to truly focus my time, talents, and energy to my three young children, my husband, and my home. The seasons which belong to my motherhood experience will bring new colors, routines, and a host of changes to my life. With the right priorities, and a bit of patience and creativity, I can enjoy each one of them for what they offer. For now, I am content to simplify and enjoy the experiences this season brings.
QUESTION: What expectations or goals are you placing on yourself which might belong to another season of your life?
CHALLENGE: Do something to increase your joy during your current season.