It’s been a rough few weeks at our house.
Jon’s been working very long hours again (spread between his second job and schoolwork), which means that the kids are all mine, all the time. In the middle of that, I got some sort of evil stomach virus that lost me 12 pounds in 4 days (thanks?), all while still being mommy full time. We seem to be in a season of whining and complaining with the four-year-old, and that wears me thin and destroys whatever small sliver of patience I started the day with. The one-year-old is generally happy, but decides every few minutes to do something that could possibly end his life (lick the electrical sockets, climb the bookshelf, nosedive off the couch, etc.), and requires my full attention if I plan to keep him around for a while.
I’ll be honest, and hope you get it & don’t send me hate mail. The last few weeks, I have been tired of being a mom. I have needed a break. But this schedule of ours isn’t letting up anytime soon, and I was starting to feel pretty hopeless about it. (Like, lock myself in the bathroom with the chocolate, hopeless.) I have been weary. So, the TV has been on more, the yelling has been more frequent, and the fun has been nowhere to be found.
A few days ago, a friend and I took our kids to the park & to lunch. The park had a gate around the whole thing (bless the man who thought of this!), so we were able to just sit & chat while the kids ran around freely. Even the baby! It felt like a tiny break. And then we took the four of them to lunch at Panera, which, as you know, was a feat in itself because have you been to a restaurant with a one-year-old? It’s not pretty, or quiet. We juggled sandwiches, caught drinks from spilling, hurriedly attempted to eat our own lunches (why even get these? who knows…), and tried to stay one step ahead of the tornado that was our table.
As we picked ourselves up the best we could, and began to head out of the restaurant, an older lady at the next table over stopped me.
“Are these all your kids?” she asked.
“No,” I laughed and shook my head. Did she not see Amanda? DO I LOOK OLD ENOUGH TO BE AMANDA’S MOM?! “We’ve each got two. These two are mine.” And I pointed to the baby on my hip and the preschooler running around in circles.
“They’re beautiful.” she said. “I miss those days.”
I laughed again and told her that I knew one day I would miss them, but today I was pretty exhausted.
She looked into my eyes and said, “I regret those days. I would do it all differently now. I would spend more time with my kids. I wouldn’t turn the TV on for them as much and tell them to go watch it so I could have a break. I would involve them more, and play more, and be with them more. I regret not doing that.”
The kids intervened just then and my attention was diverted, but I thanked her for the chat and we headed to the car.
Fast forward to yesterday, and I spent the morning putting tiny ponytails all over Emily’s head for Crazy Hair Day at preschool. We were running late again, so I was inevitably hurrying everyone along and probably raising my voice a bit. I wanted to take a picture of Emmy’s hair, but she wanted to take a video. I was irritated because we didn’t have time for a video, but we stopped to take a quick one anyways, where she told us what day it was and spun around to show off her crazy hair. I cut it off and slipped my phone away as we ran down the street to get to school on time.
On the way home, not so pressed for time, I sent the video to my dad, thinking he’d think her hair was funny. He called me almost immediately, thanked me for the video, and said, “I miss those days.”
“Those days, when you and your brother were little, and your mom would dress you up and plan fun things for you, when you would tell me about everything and always wanted to be with us, those were precious days. Things change too quickly. I miss them.”
Twice, in a few days, two unrelated people have reminded me that this time in my kids’ lives is sacred. It will only happen once. And in a few years, I will miss it.
And I had to stop and ask myself, am I missing it now?
Lately, I have felt like I’m absolutely drowning in motherhood. I’m not getting anything right, I lose my patience before breakfast, I don’t feel like I’m making a difference, there is always talking, all of the time, and I feel like I’m suffocating in the sheer presence of little people. That last part is an introvert thing, I’m sure, but it exists. I feel like I can’t get it right, can’t get them to get it right, and just need a break. But I can’t take a break, because they aren’t self-sufficient yet, so I turn the TV on for them, or I turn my computer on, and I try to escape them even though I’m right next to them.
And here I am, trying to escape my kids, when God brings the gentle reminder that I will miss these days. That these days matter.
I could have listened to the lady at Panera and rolled my eyes. I could have told my dad he was looking at the past with rose-colored glasses. This mothering thing is hard, and sometimes I legitimately could use a break. When you’re not in the thick of it, it might look like fun, but it’s 24/7 exhausting.
I didn’t, though. Because, rose-colored glasses or not, there is a wisdom that comes from experience there, and I’d be wise to listen. To take their advice now, when I still have the ability to enjoy and embrace my kids. To give them a childhood that is a solid foundation of faith and family.
And so, I pare down my life again. I re-evaluate my priorities again. I cut back on the things that don’t matter as much, so I have energy to focus on the people who do. I remember my mission as a mom, and spend a little more time in prayer, begging God for the strength and the focus to mother well. Because it takes all of my strength and focus.
And this work of motherhood, above all the other dreams I’ve got swirling around my head, is one thing I want to finish well.
A Few Things I’m Reading That Have Encouraged Me In This Area:
What God Wants For Moms With Young Children | The Better Mom
Maybe It’s Time To Make An Undo List | Emily Freeman for (in)courage
You’ve Done Enough This Week | Holley Gerth
Participate In Grace | Kristin Hill Taylor
The Important Thing About Yelling | Hands Free Mama
On Celebrating The Everyday | Anna Rendell
The Best Yes | Lysa TerKeurst
From Good To Grace | Christine Hoover
This post originally appeared at KaysePratt.com.