We’ve all seen and heard things about the importance of being an intentional mom. Oh, the mom guilt I always felt while reading about it. But honestly, it wasn’t going to click for me until I had a moment. An a-ha moment that made it all kind of sink in.
My brave husband decided to take all three kids out for the evening and give me some quiet time on the eve of this Mother’s Day. He texted me this afternoon to let me know what his plan was, and as soon as I read it, I could hardly wait for him to get off work. For once, I would be able to get stuff done and then just relax!
No hearing the word “mommy” twelve thousand times an hour. No cup refills. No potty time. I would be able to pick something up and not see it on the floor again in five minutes. I would even be able to use the bathroom without the pitter-patter of little feet following me down the hallway and waiting outside the door. It was going to be great!
Alone at Last…?
Finally the time came. Chris got home, we all had dinner, he packed up their things, and off they went.
First thing was first–I needed to pick up from the day’s mess. As strange as it sounds, I was excited to clean. Just the thought of it was therapeutic. I was so happy while cleaning, I could have broken out in song like a Disney princess. And as predicted, everything remained in its place. Success!
But you know what I didn’t expect? It felt weird.
I tried to brush off the feeling and snuggled into the couch to get comfy. All I need is some relaxation, I thought to myself.
Then I just sat there, not knowing what to do. It was so quiet. No elephant feet running through the house. No squealing and giggles. No “mommy.”
And then it sunk in. As much as I wanted to, I wasn’t enjoying my alone time. As frazzled as I often felt during the day while having nonsensical conversations and refereeing sibling showdowns, I felt completely lost with none of them home. I had become nurse, teacher, nutritionist, and expert mess picker-upper, and now who was I without any of that? The silence was deafening.
The Catch 22 of Motherhood
I’ve seen those memes floating around. The ones that say something along the lines of “you know what’s harder than having a crazy, loud house? Having a completely silent one.” And even though I understood my heart would hurt in some distant future when my kids would be grown, it didn’t fully sink in. But now it was finally hitting me. It’s not as if I’ve never been without my kids before. When my two oldest started going to their dad’s on weekends, I had oh too much time to process how important our time together is. But let’s be honest, the busyness and stress of motherhood can often sweep that all away.
On most days I have at least one moment when I feel as though it would be totally worth it to just lose it and rip my hair out. But I also go to bed most nights wondering if it was all enough, how I could have done better, and if I’m completely failing them. From what I hear from other moms, it seems that most of us feel the same way.
It’s the catch 22 of motherhood. We sometimes feel so ready for them to get to the next milestone, the next age group, the next level of independence. We know that when they get there, it will make each day just a bit easier. And yet, our hearts are always longing for a little while longer–another shot at yesterday to make it even better. Of course, no matter how much we try to slow down time, we can’t. And wishing their little years away (as trying as they are) only leads us to feel guilty.
My Lesson: Every Moment Matters
What I’m learning as I sit here in the silence is I want to be a more intentional mom. I don’t know where you are in your journey with your littles or what style of mom you are, but one thing is certain for all of us–time has no regard for what we want. We have a set amount, and regardless of how we’re feeling for the day, it will never speed up or slow down. But we can make the most of what we’re given.
When it comes to schedules, I’m definitely a go-with-the-flow mom. We don’t have a set routine other than nap time and bedtime, so our days are pretty much wide open. This can be great for days that call for flexibility. But when we’re talking about milking every possible moment of their childhood, it just doesn’t cut it. I look back, and the days all blend together. And every single one is ended with the same sentiment: I didn’t do enough today.
Of course, we need to give ourselves some mercy and grace. Even though moms are a lot like super heroes, we aren’t perfect. But at the same time, I can recognize when I could truly improve, and this is an area where I need some improvement.
I have one summer left with my son before he goes to school. My middle daughter will follow him the year after. How am I going to spend this time? I don’t want to waste it. I’ve taken the time we’ve had for granted, but now I realize how precious it is. Everyone says it when you become a new parent:
“Enjoy it while you can.”
“They grow up so fast.”
But when you’re looking down at your newborn baby, you’re not thinking about them growing up and leaving home. Or at least I wasn’t. Then suddenly you look down again, and they’re not a newborn anymore. They have their own personalities. They’re writing ABC’s and asking you questions that make you think. They’re learning to tie their shoes and remembering the lyrics to their favorite songs on the radio. And as you’re filling out the paperwork to enroll them in school, your throat becomes thick and your eyes begin to sting because you didn’t really listen to all those people who told you to enjoy them while they’re little.
New Perspectives: Being an Intentional Mom
It may seem a little dramatic. It may just be hormones. I know I have a long time before they’re fully grown. But do I? I thought I had a long time before this point. But in the Fall, my house will be just a little bit quieter during the day. There will be one less pair of feet thumping across the floor. One less dimpled, smiling face as we play our games. One less “mommy” in the loud chorus of little voices.
And I just really want to make the most out of every single second until I drop him off at school for the first time.
I so appreciate my husband giving me the peace and quiet. But what I appreciate more is what it gave me–perspective.
Until next time,
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