I spent the first few months of my oldest child’s life waiting for the next stage. I was convinced once she “slept through the night,” or “could sit up on her own,” or “started talking,” life would become progressively easier, and motherhood would be even more enjoyable.
As more children followed, I didn’t anticipate the “sleeping through the night” and “sitting up on their own milestones” quite as much since by then I realized how quickly time passes, and that the milestones would come sooner rather than later. Instead, I moved onto anticipating bigger milestones, thinking my life may be easier when “some of them are old enough to babysit,” or “when they are in school,” etc. etc.
Fortunately for me (and surely for my children), I realized somewhere along the way to stop and enjoy the NOW. With the majority of my five children in school full-time, and having “my baby” no longer a baby or toddler, I think I’m finally grasping the importance of NOW. Instead of regretting all of the wasted moments spent wishing time away, I’m focusing on the moments now. Here’s four ways that are helping me:
- I live in the moment.
One day last winter, I had my day nicely planned out, until an early morning phone call from the school district changed everything. School was canceled due to bad weather, and all my children were going to be home for the day. Instead of lamenting the fact my to-do list would not get done, I did my best to live in the moment. I allowed my teenager to cook pancakes even though the mess was a little extravagant. When my children asked if they could go sledding, I didn’t say yes and send the older ones on their way alone. We packed up the car with the whole family and some borrowed extra sleds and ALL of us spent some time sliding down a nearby hill. We finished off the afternoon at a nearby all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. NOTHING got done on my to-do list that day, yet I went to bed feeling like I’d accomplished everything I should have.
- I remember that time flies.
By the time my baby number five came along, I knew how quickly his newborn ways would turn into toddler tantrums. For that reason, I willed time to slow down. I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed every 2 am feeding. I didn’t. But I do remember many a night sitting in the chair in the corner of my room rocking my newborn a little longer than necessary. Newborns and toddlers no longer live in our home, but an entertaining pre-schooler does, along with some bossy and demanding school-aged children and a sometimes moody teenager. I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed every day with them. I don’t. In the moments when chaos reigns supreme, and I fall back into my “One day when…” mentality, I repeat the mantra I adopted a few years ago: “The days are long, but the years are short.”
- I look them in the eye.
I’m too often guilty of listening to my children talk with half an ear, and looking at what they’re showing me with only a quick glance. It wasn’t too long ago, I was only half-listening to my teenage daughter tell a story. When she finished I gave a quick response to let her know I had been listening, “Oh that’s funny!” Only problem was, I hadn’t been listening. She replied, “It wasn’t a funny story Mom. It was sad.”
I have tried my hardest since then to stop what I am doing and look my children in the eye. It’s amazing what there is to be seen. I’ve seen genuine excitement over a potato bug. I’ve seen real hurt in the eyes of a teenager describing her experience in the lunchroom that day. I’ve seen pride in the eyes of the child who finally got a good score on a spelling test. I’ve seen real love in the eyes of a pre-schooler who says, “You da best mom ever.” And I’ve seen genuine regret in the eyes of a child who did something wrong.
Oh what I would be missing out on if I only used one eye and one ear to engage with my children!
- I get on the floor and play.
We live in a world with so many distractions. We make long lists of things to do and too often our to-do lists take priority over other things, and still leave us feeling disconnected and unsettled. Just as I once thought my children’s next stages will be better, I think one more task will be better timing. “Just let me send this last email,” “After I fold this load of laundry,” “I need to make one more phone call,” and then I’ll be able to…. So once in awhile I forget the to-do list and “get down on the floor.” I play a game with my school-aged child, I’ve banged on pots with my toddler, I’ve lain on a teenager’s bed and talked. I jump on the trampoline instead of sitting on the patio, swing on the swing instead of simply pushing my child. Even though it may be fleeting, it’s typically in those moments I feel the most joy and contentment of motherhood.
Although once a mother, always a mother, my days of having our children living in our homes are numbered. There are many times I wish I hadn’t rushed my first few babies quite so much. I’m working deliberately to not rush their childhood in the same way. It isn’t always easy. Life does seem like it will be simpler when there aren’t five busy children to mother all day every day, but those days are closer than I once thought.
Let’s love being a mother NOW.
Question: What are some of the ways you cherish being a mother?
Challenge: Try your hardest to allow your children to interrupt you (within reason) and give into the moment.
Photo courtesy of Chaiwat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net