Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Better Day

Yesterday was one of those days that I live for as a stay-at-home mom, one of the days that reminds me why I have made the choices I've made.  Monday was a long day, and the last month or so has been long.  Monday evening, I got a fair amount done, so that my house is mostly tidy, the laundry is pretty much caught up, and almost all the kids are mostly healthy.  In life, you don't really ever get perfect--you just strive for getting as close as you can.

And yesterday was almost perfect.  The little girls were back to normal temperatures, their fevers having disappeared sometime during the night, and they both slept in quite a while that morning and were happy when they woke up.

After everybody was up and dressed and fed, we were outside for a few hours in the sunshine.  It was sixty degrees and bright and beautiful and I could enjoy it, and let the kids enjoy it, for however long it suited us--I had nowhere else in the world I had to be.  There are always things that need to be done, but nothing that had to get done that minute.  I could take the time to indulge the kids' curiosity about everything and nothing:  inspecting the little crocus flowers, throwing rocks and sticks into the creek, playing ring-around-the-rosies on the grass, taking turns riding the tricycle down the driveway, checking out trees and plants for blossoms or any other signs of spring.  We focused on these things, and only these things, because I had the time (and the attention) to give.  Last week, when two of my kids missed two days of school because they were miserably sick, it wasn't a problem--with no hassle at all, I was there to care for them.

There are a lot of sacrifices--financially, emotionally, and otherwise--involved in being a stay at home mom (and for many women, just keeping their family fed and clothed, its not a realistic option), but the blessings and benefits to myself, my husband, and especially my kids, are well worth it to me.

I've thought a lot the last few years about the Lord's admonition that we be "anxiously engaged in a good cause".  Its quite easy to get caught up in everything that's going on around us, and we live in a time where there are so many amazing opportunities for both self-enrichment and service, that sometimes it can be difficult to choose, to narrow down what we will spend our time on and how much of it.

Sometimes I listen to moms talk about all the things they're doing or trying to do every day, and I start to wonder if I'm limiting myself too much, if I'm not as "anxiously engaged" as I should be.  And then days like yesterday come along at exactly the right moment to remind me that I am not only anxiously engaged in a good cause, I'm joyfully engaged in the greatest cause: raising children.  A time will come when that does not demand so much of my time, energy and focus, but right now, at this stage, I love being able to focus on teaching Kylie the names of flowers and helping Keira ride a tricycle and be fully, completely in that moment, because I have no other immediate tasks pressing down on me or distracting me.  There are some moms who are better than I am about being able to accomplish a great deal while still giving amazing amounts of time and focus to their kids, and there are some moms who maybe don't do well at focusing on the kids and still getting the house clean--whatever.  I don't pass much judgment generally, because I know we're all trying to find that balance, and each family has different needs and different challenges, and so does each mom, for that matter.

Post-modern feminists are good at selling the lie that motherhood is a soul destroying trap, because they latch on to the kernel of truth that it is hard, long, occasionally infuriating or depressing, and it requires putting a lot of other interests on the back burner if you're really going to focus on the kids.  But what they miss, and what no one who isn't a parent can truly understand, is that even the worst days usually have a least a moment or two of magic, the kind of magic that makes your heart soar.  And very occasionally, you'll get whole days like that--those are the days that we catch a glimpse of that eternal, supernal joy we're promised if we do our very best at this family thing.  There will come a time when I can focus more on all those little things I'd like to do, or learn, that I can't quite find the time for right now, and I'm OK with waiting.  As I snuggled my one-year-old last night before putting her to sleep, I felt her warm little cheek against mine and thought, "Geez, didn't I just have her?"  As we get ready for our oldest's 8th (!) birthday, I realize all over again that while the days seems long, the years are short and they just keep slipping by faster all the time.  If I never live with more money than month, I won't regret staying home.  But if I miss too many of those magic moments because I was too busy, I will regret it my whole life.

One of my heros was Marjorie Pay Hinckley, who passed away several years ago.  Among many other wonderfully insightful things, she once said, "We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives.  We have to decide what is important and then move along at a a pace that is comfortable for us.  We have to develop the maturity to stop trying to prove something.  We have to learn to be content with what we are."

We are daughters of God, made in His image, crafted with a bit of his Divine Nature.  That should always be enough.  It is His children we teach and cuddle and nurture.  That is a big enough task to  worry about without loading ourselves down with a lot of extraneous "stuff".  Some days, when the only thing I have accomplished is pushing my kids on a backyard swing and teaching them the names of flowers, that's enough.


Christa said...

i'm constantly reminding myself of this as well. just yesterday evening, as i set to folding laundry, baz wanted me to hold him. that's all he wanted, just to sit and be held, and i had to remind myself that the laundry can wait. baz will only be little for such a short time. thanks for echoing what i've been thinking about a lot myself recently. i've been really enjoying those "magic" moments since we've been here.

the best thing i've learned is that there's a lot i can do to make those happen more often instead of waiting for them to come along. and i think i'm getting better at it!

Becky said...

i've been thinking the same thing lately. or always, to be more clear. and as i feel better and people start to lean on me again, more and more...i find that i am yearning for the quiet and peace of the sick years, even though i would never repeat it for anything. i just need to clear my head again and focus on what i want - which is to hang out and do science experiments with my get sucked into anyone else's stuff/life/drama. (i even have gone back to turning off my phone for a good portion of the day.)