Normally, I relish all the time I have with my children and take advantage of every opportunity to make a memory together. But since I am pregnant with my sixth child, adjusting to a new town, and barely keeping up with my other five children, the event of last summer—the total solar eclipse—which some have called amazing, spectacular, awe-inspiring, and nature’s once-in-a-lifetime show, only got a quick passing glance from us.
No, we didn’t get special glasses to watch the eclipse. I barely managed to cut up cereal boxes to make eclipse viewers that morning. And honestly, it was cloudy over us until right at the peak when the clouds broke a little bit and we got to see about five minutes of a moon-shaped shadow in our box viewfinders.
Later that evening, I couldn’t sleep. I thought about our family’s life together, which looks nothing like it did a year ago. I thought about the eclipse and felt like a loser because we had this once-in-a-lifetime moment that we played really low-key. Judging from the social media posts of friends, who traveled across country in some cases to be in the direct line of the total eclipse, our experience might have left something to be desired. Had I missed an opportunity here?
I had been slightly relieved earlier in the day to hear that there will be another total solar eclipse less than seven years from now, and that our area will be in the path of the eclipse this time! I was excited to hear this, because it meant that maybe we’d get a second chance to do this next eclipse up right.
Then I realized that seven years from now my three oldest children will be in high school. My two younger kids will be ages ten and eight. Will they even have an interest in sharing such an event with me at that point? I felt like my family’s little life together was flashing before my eyes, and I didn’t like it, not at that pace anyway!
Suddenly, I wasn’t looking forward to the next eclipse at all, because it meant their childhood, and our time together, would be over. Bummed all over again, my middle-of-the-night pregnancy thought process was getting me really depressed and distressed.
I thought about it more. I thought about those pesky eclipse glasses that I failed to get, and how one could only really see the eclipse as the once-in-a-lifetime event that it was, if one was looking through the right lens.
And then I realized: I don’t have to wait seven years for a special event. I have once-in-a-lifetime events happening in my life every single day, if only I can learn to view these events through the proper lens—a lens of shifted priorities, a lens of long-term perspective, a lens of being completely present in the now. I call this my motherhood lens.
I immediately tried using that “lens,” starting when my four-year-old daughter climbed into bed with me the next morning. Although her wake-up calls usually come too early for my liking, this time I tried to relish the moment and recognize it for the prize that it is. You never know when a moment like that will occur for the last time—or the first and the last time.
I also tried to remember my new perspective through my fatigue when my other daughter came in after having a bad dream in the middle of the night. The next day, I tried to appreciate and watch as my toddler-aged son tried on everyone’s shoes and scattered them to the four corners of the house—his favorite thing to do right now. I tried to just slow down and enjoy these moments as the once-in-a-lifetime events that they truly are for me.
Too many times, the day-to-day happenings of motherhood can become ordinary. They can seem so monotonous that we might mistake them for commonplace, when really they are our own personal once-in-a-lifetime moments. And if we aren’t looking, or aren’t seeing them through the right lens, we might miss them entirely.
Now that I’ve got my motherhood lens on again, I’m hoping to soak up as many of these moments with my children as I can in the coming weeks, months, and years, and to stop letting my pregnant state be a total eclipse of the fun that we have left together!
QUESTION: How can you shift your perspective to enjoy everyday moments as much as once-in-a-lifetime events?
CHALLENGE: Make an ordinary moment special this week, either by taking notice of it or by doing something creative with it.
Edited by Lisa Hoelzer and Kimberly Price.
Image from Pixabay; graphic by Anna Jenkins.