Don’t you just love the first days of a new season? As spring approaches, I find myself dreaming of warmer temperatures, evening walks, and green grass. Then comes summer, when our schedules free up and the smell of sunscreen permeates daily life. In the fall, where my family lives, there is finally a respite from the heat and it’s time for sweaters and soup recipes. With winter comes the magical, silent snowfalls and steaming mugs of hot chocolate.
There is such beauty in every season; however, in the middle of each, there are undoubtedly days of monotony and dread. And by the end, we often feel ready for the new season ahead.
Just as the seasons are in a constant cycle of change, so are our lives. Each stage of motherhood, from the baby years to the teenage years, comes with its own set of joys and challenges. I’ve realized that the less we focus on wishing away the season we are in, the more we can appreciate the joyful and beautiful parts of that season. Here are three things that can help you embrace the season you are in:
- Take pictures and write in your journal.
If you are a mom of a teenager, how much do you love going through those old photos from when your child was two or three years old? When he or she was just so darling and depended on you for everything? Chances are, the first thoughts that come to you when you reflect on those times are feelings of love and tenderness. You will hardly remember the exhaustion and the Cheerios on the ground. Instead your mind will go to a happy place full of memories you treasure.
Make sure to document each season of your life in photos and journals. Those images and words will remind you of the days that passed by in the blink of an eye. I remember one particular “blowout” diaper I experienced while changing one of my babies. I won’t share the details, but let’s just say that by the end both my baby and I needed a change of clothes. My first thought was logistical, thinking how to minimize the damage and get things cleaned up as quickly as possible. But then I stopped to laugh a little, and I had my five-year-old snap a picture of us. It wasn’t a glamorous moment, but I knew right then that one day we would look back and laugh at that moment of chaos!
- Focus on your priorities.
Lower your expectations for doing everything you want to do right now. Have you heard the expression, “You can have everything you want, just not all at once”? That’s exactly right. In whatever phase you are in, take a moment to list out your priorities. What is most important to you in this phase of life?
Sometimes we might like to do something, but it’s really not feasible in the season we’re in, and we have to be okay with that. By being realistic and paring down our to-do list and expectations, we can use the time we have to enjoy and be present. Let go of worrying about things that simply are not cut out for this time of your life. Perhaps that opportunity will be possible in the next season.
I like to keep a tidy house, and in the past I have found myself cleaning up toys several times a day or resenting my children for making mess after mess. I realized at the end of one particularly exhausting day that if I had just let my kids play and had tried to live with the mess a little better, instead of forcing frequent cleanups, we could all have settled for just one big cleanup at the end of the day and had the same end result. While it’s important to instill good cleaning habits in our children, it doesn’t hurt to just let them be little. While doing so, we can try to remember that one day we won’t be stepping on Legos.
- Love as much as possible.
While we all know there are aspects of motherhood that are anything but glamorous, what if we chose to approach everything we did regarding our children with love? What if we sang a silly song while changing the umpteenth diaper? What if we forced our teenagers into a hug before they left the house each morning? What if we agreed to put on a superhero cape and spend time imagining with our toddler? When we take the time to love, we will be focused on the positive instead of on the negative. Before we know it, we might just love whatever season we’re in more than we used to.
Potty training was an absolute nightmare at our house. If you couple lack of motivation with power struggles, then you’ve got the picture. I’m not proud of how I parented during many of those days. However, when my husband came home at night and took over potty duty, I would often overhear him singing a silly potty song to my son while he was in the bathroom with him. Sure enough, it took the pressure off, and my son went. Why didn’t I think of that? Instead of becoming resentful that being goofy wasn’t my natural go-to during this event, I decided to go for that same approach the next day, and guess what? It helped! As I took the pressure off of both of us in that situation, I saw my little guy for the sweet, three-year-old that he was. Love and laughter was the answer.
Don’t let any season pass before you appreciate it for what it is. One day you will wish for those nightly newborn snuggles or incoherent toddler conversations or hilarious teenage antics. If you are in the trenches of motherhood at this very moment, you’re in luck, because it’s not too late. Look around you and smile. You are where you are supposed to be right now, and in a year or two or ten, you’ll be in a new place thinking fondly on the “good old days.”
Don’t let yourself wish away the present season for the hope of something better or easier down the road, because “down the road” will come with it’s own set of challenges. You’ll never get this day back, so truly live it and love it.
QUESTION: What season of motherhood are you in right now? What do you find especially hard about it? What do you love about it?
CHALLENGE: Find a time to record memories in writing or pictures at least four times in the next month. Focus on documenting precious things about the season you are in right now. Try to plan for and establish a pattern you would like to continue into the future.
Originally published March 28, 2016.
Edited by: Katie Carter and Becky Fawcett.
Image from Shutterstock; graphics by Julie Finlayson.