Living in the Now
I was recently having a discussion with my husband, Braden, and he was telling me about something a coworker of his said that had really touched him. He was discussing parenting with this man who has two grown children, while our boys are one and three. The man said that anytime someone asks him what his favorite stage has been with his children his answer is always, “now”. When they were one it was, “now”. When they were 10 it was, “now”. When they were 30 it was “now”. This struck Braden and I so much because it’s such a simple, yet powerful response to that question. It encourages you to live in the present and carries a sentiment of gratefulness for every season of life. I have decided that I want to do my best to live with this attitude of enjoying the Now with children.
Do I always enjoy everything that come with parenting? No, definitely not. Just because I’m trying to be thankful at all times doesn’t mean I am in denial about the hard parts. Most days right now with my sweet, young, energetic boys are full of making meals and doing dishes, wiping bottoms, changing LOTS of diapers, and doing LOTS of laundry. There are also about 200 + questions a day coming from my curious and talkative 3.5 year old (Elias), and 1-5 temper tantrums thrown by my very determined and independent 1 year old (Joseph “JoJo”). When I made the decision to stay home with my boys instead of going back to work after Jojo was born I was honestly so excited. I had been praying for this for a while and in my mind I had everything all planned out. My expectations for my new life of freedom from a 9-5 job were set very high and I just knew that the transition would be easy for me. Well...it wasn’t. I found myself about a month in to being a full time STAHM (Stay At Home Mom) complaining about way too much. I was feeling sorry for myself, feeling unseen, feeling exhausted, and a little lonely. A lot was changing in our lives and it seemed to hit all at once. Instead of living in the moment I found myself saying, “This is just a season, they will grow up and it will get easier.” I was living for the future and the next thing, and this pattern is a dangerous one to fall in to.
One day last summer I was sitting in my living room and I noticed an old journal on my bookshelf. I pulled it out and was just flipping through the pages when I suddenly came across an entry from December 2015, which was 3 months after I had Elias. It said, “Goals/Dreams.” There were 7 things on the list, but the ones that jumped out to me were:
I want to know God more intimately than ever before. I want to CRAVE time with Him
I want to be a stay at home Mom
I want to grow my family
I want to lead worship and see signs and wonders and miracles through leading people into God’s presence
While reading the list it occurred to me that I was currently living my dreams. Literally. This really woke me up. It was the gentle but powerful voice of the Holy Spirit reminding me not to curse the very things I had once prayed for, and I decided that I would practice thanksgiving and gratefulness in life, and especially Motherhood, to the best of my ability. This didn’t happen overnight and I have to continue to daily seek the Holy Spirit to help me. While I don’t believe in a perfect checklist or “How To” manual with mothering, there are some things that I have found really help me embrace the Now.
1. We wake up every day and the first thing we do is worship. Usually one or two songs- some days the boys pick the song, some days I pick the song, and other days we just sing an acapella version of Jesus Loves Me, but it sets the tone for our day and teaches the boys and me that God comes first.
2. Pray. Talk to God all day. Ask Him to give you wisdom on how to parent each child. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you their strengths and also weaknesses so you can encourage them and help them become men and women after God’s heart.
3. I try to have at least one or two activities planned so we all have something to look forward to. This can be arts and crafts, baseball, a trip to the park, zoo, or my personal favorite, Target.
4. When they nap, I take care of myself...AND I DON’T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT. I spend time studying the Bible, I shower, put on makeup, watch Fixer Upper, and anything else I might have time for. This is great for working moms too. Take time for yourself. When I worked after Elias was born I woke up early to have time alone and to get ready.
5. Be in community with others. If they have kids, great. If not, also great! Seek wisdom from that community who has been there before you and learn from them. They say it takes a village to raise a child, I say it takes a village to raise a Mom.
6. I put time, energy and love into my marriage. One of the most important things my kids can see is a loving relationship between Braden and me. They notice, even if they are little.
7. Family time!!! This one is so important and applies to every mother- not just STAHMs. Spend good, quality time with your immediate family. It really can be very simple. We have dinner together almost every night around our kitchen table. We also love family movie night, trips to get ice-cream, and going to the zoo.
8. I look at my kids and say, out loud, “There is no place in the world I would rather be than here with you two.” I know this saying will change as our season of life changes. This is really me saying, “God, There is no where else I would rather be than exactly where YOU want me.”
9. Finally, Enjoy them. Love them. Kiss them. Hug them. Tell them they are loved.
I’m sure many of you have some amazing tips I could take and use as well! I am excited to grow and continue to learn how to enjoy motherhood - the good, the bad, AND the ugly. I am trying so hard to soak in all the moments because I know they don’t stay little forever and time goes so quickly. I am finding so much joy in the small, daily moments of this time in my life. I really believe that is because of the grace of God and my relationship with Him. Being a mother has made me so aware of His role as a Father in my life and just how much He loves me. Even on the hardest days, knowing I am loved by Him puts me at ease, because I know He is on my side, helping me every step of the way. I’m grateful for my Now. Today that looks like a picnic lunch outside, puzzles and laundry. What does your Now look like and how will you embrace it?