Confession time: I used to get irritated when my elders would remind me to “savor the days” of my littles. I remember giving them the most quizzical stares as they would try to instill in me the value of treasuring the season of motherhood I was in. Treasuring the season of motherhood, I thought, was impossible because…
clearly, they didn’t have any experience with children like mine.
You see, I had three young boys back then, with our fourth on the way and I was truly convinced that if they could dismantle our 3-bedroom mobile home piece by piece… they would. JUST FOR FUN. My elders, with their sage advice, probably had dainty, well-behaved children, not the kind that could destroy a room in 30 seconds flat! I certainly didn’t feel like “treasuring” anything!
Telling me to treasure this season… well, it was diffilcult for me to think in that light while I was pulling one child off the other with my big pregnant belly in the way the whole time. Life was just HARD. We were poor, struggling in more ways than just financially. I was trying to figure out how to be a godly wife AND mom at the same time. We were trying to serve in our local ministries the best way we knew how and at times, our marriage was strained because of the weight of it all. “How could I learn to treasure all of this?”, I wondered, “I just want to take a bath and read a good book!” “I want a BREAK!” “I want to rethink this whole ‘having babies’ thing!”
Does God whisper to you?
He whispers to me, and sometimes he whispers to me through others and though it seemed impossible, I knew God was whispering to me through these elders that would come and talk to me. I heard a reminicing tone in their voice and saw a longing in their eyes as they would speak to me and I had a pretty good feeling that they knew what they were talking about in a much deeper way than they were saying, but I was young and stressed so learning to treasure motherhood was a little more of a process for me.
“You’ll Miss These Days…”
I remember this one woman at church. She’d catch ahold of me before service and ask how things were going from time to time. I’d tell her, honestly, that my house was a wreck, our days were filled with homeschooling and heart training (for the kids and me!), and I sure hoped it was all working and that I wasn’t doing this for nothing. She’d put her arm around me and say, “You know, I fussed way too much about keeping a clean house when my boys were little. Let the furniture get dusty, don’t worry about juice spills honey, you’ll long for those someday. You’ll miss these days, they’ll be gone in an instant! My house is clean now, but it sure is empty …” And her voice would trail off and even I could feel how much she missed her days of motherhood.
Little whispers like that were sent to me often in those early years. I wish I had listened much more than I actually did. My three oldest boys are grown now and I am embarrassed by how much I stressed over the little things that seemed so huge back then. But I DID listen enough to where I began to savor the sweet and good moments more and more with my kiddos. Even though there were many days that I didn’t feel like it, I took long walks with them, we went to the beach whenever we could. Countless trips to the zoo. Reading and movie nights. I tried to do the things that would help us build memories that we could remember with fondness.
If you find yourself struggling to treasure this season,
if you are looking around at the mounds of laundry and the dirty kitchen and can’t find a quiet place in the midst of your ‘crazy’, I want to encourage you to step back for a moment… just a moment and ask yourself: “What do I want our memories to be? When all of this is gone, did I even try to enjoy the ride?” Mama- will the overflowed toilet that detoured your morning matter in 20 years? I asked myself these questions when my 4th son was about to arrive and I realized that I had been doing so much of this momhood thing wrong! I wanted memories of snuggling during reading time, talks about future dreams and lots of love to shine through. Not me stressing out over every mess and schedule disruption. I wanted my boys to remember fun and games and nurture. I wanted the memories for me too, I didn’t want to be so distracted with busywork that I missed what was right in front of me: a family.
“It really DOES go by quickly.”
The baby came that November and I got a little better at treasuring motherhood. It didn’t feel as awkward anymore and I ‘came into my own’ as they say. It didn’t get easier, I just began to get better. There was less yelling and more playing. Less schedules and more rest. I began to learn to make choices that reflected the values, the vision I had for family.
Two more babies have joined our family since then, each 5 years apart. These years have softened me quite a bit and now I think I am beginning to feel the depth of what my elders were trying to gently teach me so many years ago. 2 of my oldest sons have moved out and I truly miss their sweet, tender years. Each year that passes causes me to slow down and enjoy this journey more and more because now that I’ve seen two of my boys transition to adulthood, I can join with my elders and say, “It really DOES go by quickly.”
So take the time to sit down and listen to your babies today, play that game, go for that walk. Read the story one more time. Listen to that teen and their dreams. Walk with them, love them. Thank God for this season and ask Him to help you treasure it more. Ask Him to help you build the right kind of memories. I want my kiddos to not just remember the fun things we did, but to remember how their mother loved them in daily life too. All the stress and mess won’t matter in 15 years, what matters are hearts- theirs and yours. Treasure this season mama, treasure it.