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
Alisha Gale says
It’s funny that you mention allowing your children to interrupt you. I very much believe that children should learn that they are not always the center of attention. And plenty of times I’ve told them to wait because I have to finish X, and I don’t regret it.
At the same time, I made a decision awhile ago to work on the stuff that needs my full attention when the kids are either asleep or at school. I make sure that (when possible), when the children are home and awake, I’m never working on anything that can’t be put down. It’s really made a difference to my sense of peace knowing that during the day my attention wasn’t divided.
Thank you so much for this article! Living in the moment is something I definitely need to work on. I will confess that sometimes I get irritated with moms who seem to be so anxious to get to the next stage of parenting, and who seem to wish away their children’s early years. But just the other day I had an aha moment that I shouldn’t feel so smug about this issue, because I do something similar in my own unique way. Instead of embracing the present moment, I look backward and pine away for the stages that have already passed. That is just as bad as rushing toward the next stage. You are very blessed that you had this revelation while your youngest was still a newborn, so that you had a chance to savor those previous moments. I’m going to try to follow your example and savor as many moments as I can with my now school aged (sniff, sniff) son.
I’m in your exact same stage of life right now and sometimes it panics me that I have 4 years till my oldest leaves! Time needs to freeze for a while!
Thank you for this article. My 5 year-old daughter loves to talk. Lately, I’ve realized that she talks and talks while following me around the house and I half listen to what she says. Thank you for reminding me of the importance of fully looking her in the eye and listening with my full attention.
Christina Myers-Andrada says
Tiffany, I can’t get over that you are the mother of 5! It seems just yesterday you were a little girl in my Primary in Epsom! You had a wonderful example for a mother, and I’m glad your children have a wonderful example in you! You are right: Savor every day, every moment. I often find myself trying to remember our kids as babies. I pull out the pictures and try relive those sweet moments that will never really come back. Now I look forward to my own children having those same experiences with their children. Great article!
Janet Dubac says
I am a first time mom and I am always thinking ahead and milestones to come sooner because I always feel excited whenever my daughter achieves something new. But I realized that as milestones came, my daughter also grew up faster without me noticing the smaller details. So, like you, I live in the now and enjoy it. Thanks for this post!
Lindsey Bell says
I think I need to read this every single day. Very good post. Thank you!
April Perry says
This is one of the many reasons why I love you, Tiffany!
Christine Needles – I love her I cannot wait to meet her!!!!!!!!!!! You are so blesesd with such a beautiful little bundle. My favorites are 3, 5, and 6, from the top of the page down. Sending some Needles love to you guys we’re so happy for you!!