Rushing, always rushing. I grabbed a bag of snacks and waited impatiently the three minutes it took the corn to pop. My oldest daughter opened the side door of our house and hollered that one child was pulling another’s hair inside the van. It would be an all-out brawl if I didn’t get out there fast. I moved away from the noise and quickened my pace.
As predicted, a quarrel was certainly underway. One child crying, another looking smug, and still another was keeping track of the score. The youngest was scolded, adding bellows to the fray. Soon her crying reached a fevered pitch, and we had not yet pulled out of the driveway.
I glanced over to the barnyard and noticed my father-in-law tearing rotten shingles from the old milk house, looking like he wished he could melt into the woodwork. I wondered what thoughts were going through his head as he watched this little scene. I know what thoughts were going through mine. I buckled seat belts, and we drove off in spite of the commotion.
The crying turned to screaming as I pulled out of the lane. I lectured all the way, to no avail. My youngest was enraged and there was no reasoning with her at this point. I am sure my father-in-law got an earful as we turned and drove by him again to go up the side road. I drove 2 kilometers before finally pulling over to the shoulder. Warnings had been issued and this was the last straw. Mama has had enough. I turned the van around and went home. Fuming, I was visibly beyond my breaking point.
And so it goes. Life is full of moments like this. My children quarrel, argue, whine and cry at different intervals throughout the day. I lecture, negotiate, discipline and comfort in response to the ebb and flow of their behaviors and emotions. Through it all, I look for blessed quietness in moments and I find these moments where I might least expect them.
We take another road trip the following day, this time complete with Dad at the wheel. I am looking forward to a few minutes alone to gift shop while the crew goes to a park for a swim. I unload towels, swimming trunks and snacks. I am moments from closing in on a deal.
“I’ll be gone one hour,” I promise my husband, “Tops.”
I turn to leave, and my eleven year old son says, “Please, can I come too, Mom?”
I try to mask my disappointment at his request. I know already that I cannot say “no”, but, oh, how I had so been looking forward to a few minutes by myself! I begin to reason with him in the hopes of swaying him with the lure of a pool. He is unmoved.
“Can you and me spend some alone time together?” he pleads.
I am touched, at this point, that he would choose me over swimming at the pool. I absorb his question, feeling the impact of my child’s petitioning. I open the door for him, and we drive off together to look through small shops. I lead, and he follows.
I am surprised by the quiet and the ease with which I am able to work through my list with only this one child in tow. We make small talk and I realize how rarely he and I just spend time together. What has happened to my son, my first born, whom I played dinosaurs and blocks with what feels like mere days ago? Now he is interested in shoe shopping and gift selection.
I am so preoccupied with the little ones who need me most that I often overlook the older ones who also need me, but in different ways. I marvel at how this son of ours is growing up. He is a young man now, and he needs to be acknowledged for the individual he is becoming. We make our purchases and all too soon, the hour is up. I head back to the park with a full heart. I have been blessed by this unexpected glitch in my plan for the day.
“Wise, we are, who understand that perspective is of utmost importance in the midst of everyday living. We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” (Anais Nin)
If we are feeling rushed and frantic, situations will look like crises. If we are relaxed and level-headed, situations will appear manageable. When children cry and fuss, it is often a matter of my perspective how the situation is interpreted. That and a realization that sometimes I just need to get away from the craziness and experience quiet reflection. Sometimes that is the best immediate fix.
When life doesn’t turn out as planned, my perspective can be one of finding the good in the situation or seeing the bad. Attitude adjustments will get me closer to the best perspective every time. The more I align myself to what I know to be true, that sure and steady foundation on which I base my parenting, the easier I am able to handle what comes my way.
Hubby driving, I turn to look into the back seat of our van as we head back home after a full day in town. I am… thankful. To be sure, there will be crying tonight, of that I can be certain! Before long, someone will instigate a fight; but it is quiet at present, and peaceful. I have innumerable blessings, and there are five I can count by name, riding with me towards home.
QUESTION: Do you feel overwhelmed by the challenges of meeting everyone’s needs? How do you make time for everyone without spreading yourself so thin that there is nothing left for you?
CHALLENGE: We all need mommy time. But each of our children need one-on-one mommy time, too. Are there ways in which you can creatively carve out time for your children to spend one-on-one time with you? Think outside the box. Kids want to be with their moms, and what you do together is not as important as the time spent together.
Photos submitted by Lori Gard