“Wherever you are, be there totally.” ~Eckhart Tolle
I know being a first-time mom is pretty scary. You’ve anticipated the arrival for nine months. You held a gender reveal and then the baby shower. You posted all your memories on social media and tagged hundreds of people on your posts. On the day of your delivery, you counted 10 fingers and 10 toes. Now you’re home and alone with a newborn, a life that is dependent on you. Terrifying! Yet, eventually, you figured things out, hit your stride, and found your rhythm.
Did you go back to work after your six weeks of bonding, or did you have the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom? Perhaps you’re married and have the emotional support of your spouse. Maybe you’re a single mom and lucky enough to have a robust support system that helped you feel confident and strong. I pray that you’re not alone.
Regardless of your circumstance, there is a commonality that we share, a sisterhood, a bond, and that is we want the best for our children, and we want to see them thrive.
So we strive to be a good parent and put our children’s needs ahead of our own. Yet, at some point along the way, it’s easy to lose focus. It’s easy to get caught up in the everydayness of things, the mundane. My excuse was working two jobs, one full-time and the other home-based. My lifestyle was very fast-paced, my guilt overshadowed by my rationale of paying for private school and musical instruments. I was still trying to find my purpose, not to mention working to keep up appearances. We don’t want to look like failures even if we’re drowning.
I’m not sure when I stopped listening or noticing the little things. I seemed to be constantly functioning on autopilot, coasting through my day, searching for that little rarity of “me time.” I’ve always had one foot in the past and one foot in the future; I have never enjoyed the fruitfulness of the present moment.
But I don’t know your story. I don’t know if you’re a teenage girl trying to make it through high school or if your child was planned and perfectly thought out. I know that it’s easy to get distracted by social media, peer pressure, and societal norms.
Have you ever stopped to tie your six-year old’s shoe because it was quicker for you to do it than to allow them the opportunity? Have you been in such a hurry because you were either late for work or just didn’t have the time to listen at that moment? I’ve been guilty 100 times over; when asked a question by my son on why he was not allowed to do a thing, my first response was, “Because I said so.” This was something that I always heard as a child, and I was taught that you don’t question adults because their word is the law. I was taught that you don’t question an adult’s authority. Now I know that “I” is ego, so when I look back on those moments, I feel terrible.
How many times had I allowed my ego to raise my child? I missed so many teaching moments because I did not take the time, be honest, and explain my reasoning. As a result, I squandered genuine opportunities to engage.
Today I saw a young mother walking in a busy parking lot with her young daughter in tow. She was on her smartphone texting, oblivious to what her child was doing. I walked behind just in case I had to shield her daughter from a moving car. Eventually, she finished her engagement, remembered her daughter, and grabbed hold of her hand. I gently breathed a sigh of relief.
I’ve seen mothers Facetiming and texting while driving with children in the vehicle. I wonder who is so vital that they would dare be so immersed in distraction while carrying their most precious cargo.
I’ve said all that to simply say: The house won’t always be perfect, nor the beds made. Work is not the end all be all. Being in a hurry is not always the best practice. Sometimes you have to slow down, breathe, and remember what is most important. When you brought that child into the world, it ceased to be about you, so love on your children, be fully present in the moment, and please don’t get so caught up in recording the moment that you miss it. Just because you are physically present does not mean you are emotionally available. Your world is right here, not in the past or in the future but NOW. Spending time is the most essential thing that you will ever do—therefore, delight yourself in the sparkle in their eyes. Cherish the little things; take joy in the minor accomplishments, everydayness, and mundane stuff, because as time passes, these will be the ones you cherish the most.
Put down your phone, call them back later or not. Create a dialogue with your children, ask questions but make sure you listen intently to the answers. Don’t be afraid to do it differently than your parents—this is a new age and a new generation. They grow up so fast. If you blink, you might miss it.
Do I have regrets? Absolutely! As an older and more mature mother, I have apologized to my son and asked for his forgiveness. I will continue to be there for my adult child because they still need us regardless of age. Our adult children then bless us with grandchildren. I am thankful for the redemptive grace of grandchildren. They give us a second chance to get it right, but oh, how I wish I had gotten it right the first time.