Upon thinking of Mother’s Day and all the ways in which we view the sacred gift of parenting, I’ve been thinking of how much my life has changed by being a mom. It’s been less than 4 years, and even in that short time, the pivotal shift that mothering makes in one’s life is highly altering–to everything else.
There are many, many reasons why I am grateful for my kids–of course. Their smiles, their wit, their vivacious love of life–even if it just means going to the grocery store or to the bank. And then there is the gratitude I ensue from the hard lessons they teach me. You know, all that stuff about myself I didn’t want to look at until I’m faced with it in front of little baby angel eyes? Yes, that stuff. I’m grateful for them showing me that, not even intentionally, but just in the way that they react to life. But out of all the joys and the hard days, I think what I most appreciate about my kids is that they teach me how to be present–and that teaches me how to be loved. All kids really want is for their parents to be WITH them. Most of the time it doesn’t even matter what we’re doing, just as long as we’re together. And it’s in those small moments of being together that I can appreciate the idiosyncrasies of each of them. It’s when we slow down that I notice that there is a dimple under Ella’s right eye that shows itself when she smiles (or cries). It’s when we slow down that Lucy comes crawling over to me just to hug my neck. It’s when we slow down that sibling rivalry also slows down and takes a breath.
It’s in the slow down.
There is peace. And there is presence.
It seems that in a world of “doing”, everything tries to steal away from this presence. “Make sure the house is spotless, make sure you’re at this activity or that function, make sure the clothes are washed and ironed, make sure dinner is cooked (and always clean-eating), make sure they get time to exercise, make sure YOU get time to exercise, make sure you don’t lose contact with the outside world, make sure you’re following the guidelines in this parenting how-to book, make sure you go on at least one date night a month, make sure–make sure–make sure.”
I’m tired. Leave me alone………
But when I’m present, I’m not so tired. It doesn’t mean that I still don’t fall hard into my pillow each night–because I sure do. It’s tiring with a baby on your hip, a baby in your belly, and a three year old holding your hand. And yet, the load is lifted for all of us when we are present.
When I’m not looking over what I “should be doing for them”, I’m enjoying them. When I’m not thinking of the list of other to do’s that so easily stack up, it’s easy to respond favorably to: “Mama do it” and “Can we go outside and play?” and “Let’s go to Target!”
I’ve shared before in a blog about how my pastor talked about a new baby being compared to the presence of God. It’s one of my favorite metaphors. When that baby shows up, everything is focused on it. Feed the baby, change the baby, hold the baby when it’s crying. We steward everything around the new life we’ve been given. And even though we have multiple babies and responsibilities that have to be shared, it is still the same.
So many of the problems in our world revolve around the fact that our families are broken–that we can’t steward what we have (and then we usually just stack more activity on top of it). The statistics of fatherless kids are horrific. The statistics of kids who have dual households is high. Families fight; people don’t talk to one another. It’s not to say that there aren’t good reasons for separations–because there are. Sometimes separation is the healing agent. And yet, I wonder how much we could change by just being present.
If we lived in a world that slowed down, that wasn’t quite so “productive”, that wasn’t so ill-equipped with false responsibility, I think we might find more peace. I think if we lived with a messier house during the day, we might make room for more creativity instead of clean kitchen floors. If we expected less from each other and less from ourselves, we just might like one another and ourselves more (yes, I’m actually suggesting to give yourself a break. I’m learning how to give myself one.) If we actually started to invest more in our family time, we might end up with less drama in our lives. And who doesn’t want less drama?
I find this peace in the presence of my family. They are presents to me. They teach me presence. And in presence, love is found. And so is acceptance and joy and laughter.
It might be a treat to be a mom on Mother’s Day. I might get a pedicure or an afternoon to myself, but I find that I can get bored after a few hours away. I long for the presence again.
And that is the real gift of Motherhood.
Happy Mother’s Day, mama’s! May you enjoy not just this weekend but your daily presents as well!
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