Thursday, December 01, 2011

Moments happen when I get out of the way

This is tomorrow's post for our Desert News Motherhood Matters blog - thought I might as well share it here as well so I can easily read over it and I hopefully won't have to keep learning this lesson again and again!
You can't force a moment. I know this but sometimes I still try.

Yesterday there were lots of not-so-good moments. The kids were cranky and needy and I worked hard all day but didn't feel like I got much done. We were late to everything because of domino effects of dumb little things that kept happening - misplaced shoes and homework, spending way too long trying to find poster board at Target, the cashier at the shoe store giving me a hard time about exchanging shoes I bought for my son last week that had already fallen apart, one thing after another. I ended up snapping at the kids quite a bit and not feeling like the mom I want to be at all.

But this day could be saved! I helped the kids hurry along with homework and dishes with the promise of Christmas decorating accompanied by Christmas music, a treat, and a nice story time by the fire using the favorite Christmas books we'd pull out of the Christmas boxes. I'd pull out each decoration and tell the story of where it came from and what it meant to our family. They'd all be enthralled and excited to follow directions about where each thing should go. I was sure we were in for some beautiful moments to end the day on a lovely note.

As I helped one child get ready for basketball, another one started pulling out all the tree ornaments when we don't have a tree yet and while I was trying to explain to him why that stuff needed to be left alone for now, another child was ready for a special moment with me - he wanted to show me each favorite books as he pulled them out of a box like they were long-lost friends. Then there was another child saying "be quiet" and making snappish and callous comments as he tried to do the last of his homework while one of his little brothers wanted to show him some exciting stuff (darn, I heard myself in a few of those snappish comments!). As soon as I started paying attention to one child, someone else was needing me. Meanwhile decorations were ending up pulled out and put in random places all over and the control-freak in me was feeling pretty threatened! The moments I had in mind weren't happening - at all.

I dropped the whole decorating idea and just plopped down on the couch, feeling defeated. Quickly, I was joined by my 6-year-old twins, books in hand, geam in their eyes. They snuggled up on either side of me and placed a book on my lap. The older kids came and sat down too. I'd told them we'd just read one book as it was getting a bit late but we read four books. We just couldn't stop. The kids were creating the beautiful moments I'd craved with their snuggling and cute comments, memories and ideas as we read.

So last night, I learned (yet again) that the best moments are not planned by the mom. The best moments happen when the mom relaxes and let's the kids bring the moments to her. So much of the joy of moments is stamped out when we get too attached to our own visions of particular joyful moments we're trying to create.

Just be there. Just listen. Just sit there. Just smile.


Eyrealm said...

Nice job and SO true!

Jonah and Aja said...

Yeah, us Dad's never try to fabricate them and they just happen all the time. Take a lesson from the dads for once.

Jenny Hatch said...

This one resonated today. We started our stories, scriptures, and christmas singing last night amidst typical teenage boys fighting with little brother, as I type this comment Dad is refereeing what I hope is the final fight of the night.

This afternoon, about five thirty, before I served supper, I asked all three boys to come join us for the story. I only had one balk and he was pacified when we told him he could light the candles. We had two fights over who was sitting where on the couch during the story, but other than that our twenty minutes together was mostly nice.

Reality often clashes so resoundingly bad with the dreams we have for meaningful family time that we Moms are often tempted to give up, not try, and just give in to despair.

As my husband was attempting to reason with three very unreasonable boys determined not to give an inch just now, I yelled to him, "honey, let them fight it out, come in the bedroom with me, and we'll lock ourselves in". My husband being the more Christlike one in our marriage, said, "yeah that is really going to help", and continued to teach the boys and settle the squabble.

I think the issue for me is that I have all these hopes and dreams for spending eternity with my children, but at times I just get so overwhelmed with them that I start dreaming of the time when they will be gone.

Right or wrong, that is the truth. I have determined that as a mother I love my babies until they are about four and a half, then slowly, year by year they start to get on my nerves.

Maybe the ancients had it right when boys were married at 18 and girls married at puberty.

Maybe we were never meant to live with our parents past a certain time. The biggest clashes at our house always involve the older children claiming the youngest is "spoiled", and having major issues with perceived injustices in how they were raised as opposed to how the youngest is being nurtured.

Whew, didn't mean to write a book, but I always appreciate your honesty.

Tara said...

I am over from the Power of Moms site :). I loved your post and it came at a perfect time for me. I have made many perfect Christmas plans in my head and yesterday I had to stop myself when the kiddos got out the nativity set ahead of schedule. Your post popped into my head, I let the magic happen .... and it was fun! My favorite part of the day was when my daughter came to snuggle up on the couch before bedtime wanting to look at the Christmas tree together. Wasn't planned, wasn't push ... it was perfect! so thanks for the inspiration and good reminder!

shawni said...

SO true!

Anonymous said...

great post. Also good to remember that just because a moment isn't picture picture and meeting our high mom expectations,it doesn't mean there isn't value and wonder and fulfillment in that less than stellar moment! I'm thinking of our advent reading this year with lots of sibling shushing and "its my turn" and "he's breathing on me" balanced with kids gathered in one room for storytime, Bibles in hand, and I smile. If I waited for, expected or demanded perfection - a blissful reading and listening of the Advent stories, I would be missing out on the rich experience we had, even if its less than perfect.


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