LifeLesson: Live in the Moment

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As a mother, I’m always faced with the challenge to get things done off my to-do list and I always bypass the chance to just live in the moment. I’m so accustomed to wanting each and every day to be productive and successful that I don’t stop and appreciate the little things. I hate to say it but I’ve developed a bad adult behavior that emphasizes more on tasks, chores, and checklists as a priority rather than the person I do it all for; my kid.

Before I wake up in the morning, usually our daughter has made her way back into our bedroom. She climbs over me strategically making space in the middle of us. It’s gotten to the point where on cue, whether I’m half sleep or not I scooch over and tap my husband to move so she doesn’t get squished. All three of us would lay in bed snuggled uncomfortably for another hour before the rush of commands hit us for the day.  Sadly that’s one of the briefest moments my family connection before the day begins and technically it doesn’t count since some of us are still counting sheep.

It’s crazy how quickly we fall into a sort of a routine without even realizing it. My husband and I will fuss over who does what. I nag him to make all the beds and depending on who has to go to work first cook and clean. Come to think of it, with all the hustle and bustle we are pretty tired by 11 and I do mean am! I could accredit to how things were much simpler when she was a baby but no matter how old our children get it shouldn’t diminish our willingness to just take the time and have quality moments together.

Looking back on just the last couple months, it’s been filled with us walking around like mindless drones instead of real human beings. But sadly once you start the rhythm it’s hard to get out of the flow. The same pattern follows and the more I allow it, the harder it is to break away.

Case in point:

Every night I get my daughter ready for bed and like any tired parent you want them all cleaned up, in their jammies, teeth brushed and story read before 11 and I do mean pm! I must admit that by the time I kiss her goodnight for the twentieth time and take the big sigh of relief that everything’s done I never know what to do with myself. Should I stay up late watching tv? Eat more dinner or dessert? Write? Read? When I start to finally enjoy the moment of stillness I instantly start to ache for more family time with my daughter and husband. Part of me wants her to go to bed as early as I can and the other part wants to stay up to watch old 90’s TV sitcom shows.

The fact of the matter, I’ve been struggling with balance and setting my priorities in place so they no longer clash for a while. There is so much to do, so much to get done, so much to accomplish, but allowing it to overrule you diminishes the quality of life we are all blessed to have. It’s difficult to put down the clipboard and run away from routine freely. How can you have quality life moments without the quantity of life’s responsibility over-piling?

It starts with taking a death breath. Release the pent up energy, take a sip of water and realize just exactly where you are. Ask yourself do you really need to be fussing in the supermarket like this over Cheerios and chips? Should you be wasting a joyous car ride fussing over what hasn’t been done yet? What about at dinner, why act surprised at the food all over the floor? Parenting is a never-ending roller-coaster ride. But why should your emotions be?

Take a moment before you start and really list the absolutes that you are going to focus on. Don’t give any time or attention to details that take you away from that list. Close your eyes and imagine what you want to get done today and then start making a plan for getting those done. Permit yourself moments that recharge your love, kindness, and strength. For me, it’s reading my Bible, listening to music, and actually going to the bathroom alone. Whatever you need to keep your energy high for the day, do it.

And if you have a busy toddler like myself, then don’t stress do those things together. Incorporate your kids to clean when you clean. Get your child to find all the mismatch shoes while you fold the towels. Have them sing for you while you clean the bathroom. Every task, every chore, involve them in it. Invite them into your routine and it will definitely bring the family connection you’ve been missing.

I learned that saying, “sit” over and over again will exhaust me and leave me unsatisfied. Plus, it will never get her to sit. So, throw the rule book out the window every now and then. If you are paying bills, then have them sitting right next to you and maybe they will pay a bill or two. If you are praying, don’t lock them out but bring them in and take your time. Every moment of the day should not only be spent succeeding but also loving the ones you do it all for.

Life Lesson: You Can’t Have It All Without Christ

CHRIST IS ALL.jpgIt’s officially crazy holiday shopping season. Thanksgiving has come and gone and the spirit of spend, spend, spend is upon us. My email inbox is flooded with deals, deals, and more deals. Each email I get is tugging me to go shop here and spend this. Each offer is nice and inviting but once I really take a moment away from the rustling and bustling of holiday hustle I realize how much of a black hole the holiday season can be. I also realize I need to start unsubscribing from some emails…

Growing up my parents never place great emphasis on the typical Christmas celebration of Santa Claus, elves, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Though we entertained ourselves on those snowy days with wonderful Hallmark and family movies about spreading cheer and giving, their primary goal was to give us the true gift that Christ gave us.

I’m pretty confident that everyone knows the Birth of Jesus Christ. It’s a story that never gets old. Mary and Joseph do the unthinkable and start on a journey leading them to the King of Kings. Most people probably thought they were crazy! I for one can’t imagine trying to spend the first year of my marriage preparing for a baby. Most newlyweds are still trying to get situated and pick a family toothpaste. All of their sacrifices allowed them to be honored as the parents of the King of the World. They didn’t have much, in fact, when he was born he was in kind of a bind. Mary had to deliver Jesus in a barn filled with random smells, various animals, and not a single Christmas tree or decorated stocking.

Yet, what they lacked in careers, home, lifestyle, and finances, Jesus Christ made up for it. It’s not Christmas because the wise man came with gifts, the shepherds came to awe, and the drummer boy played. It’s Christmas because of Jesus Christ being born.

So, this holiday season I’m unsure of which direction I should go in regards to gift shopping. I started this post thinking I couldn’t have it all. I thought after scrolling through my favorite stores online, seeing all the great sales, discounts and realizing that everything my eyes sees and wants my pockets can’t guarantee. But now, after reminiscing about Jesus’s birth my eyes are opened and I know that I can have it all!

I have it all the moment I gave my life to Jesus Christ. The moment he was born in a manager by a virgin was when I could have it all. I could have joy, peace, freedom, love, victory, life abundantly. So, though I might only buy a couple of items from a store or two, I refuse to let that change how I view how blessed I am.

 

The Rhythm of A Mother

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Every mother can nod in agreement because it’s true. As wonderful motherhood can be, sometimes our bodies can’t keep up. These past few months, my body has made it clear just how exhausted it’s gotten. Every mother has a list of what they have to do, need to and want to do. Though there are some days when the list is completely checked off, there are others where I just wasted a piece of paper writing down things I didn’t accomplish.

Halfway through my school term, I started falling behind dramatically. Between Elizabeth fighting off a cold, making sure she eats dinner, gets bathed, and chores, rarely would I have any energy left to stay up all night to study and do homework. And since I’m a mother, I knew when the lights went out, I have to catch sleep in order to do it all over again. As hard as I fought, I was a sinking ship, preparing to meet my doom. I kept trying and trying, believing I would catch up before midterms or finals. I made strict schedules (that I couldn’t stick to) and different approaches to getting her to take longer naps (which kinda of worked). All my attempts ended in me flunking two classes this term. I was stressed, overwhelmed and disappointed.

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I wanted so badly to complete the term in perfection, that I couldn’t see what I was doing to myself. I was cranky, grumpy, tense, and my laundry was sky high! It wasn’t until a couple nights before the last day of the term that I decided to give up, kick my feet up and sip on some cough medicine (yeah, I ended up catching a cold). Though it kills me to admit this, but I’m grateful I didn’t pass this term with flying colors. It opened my eyes to see that I was setting unrealistic goals, way too high standards, and my priorities weren’t aligned anymore. When my daughter was an infant, it was easier to sit her down and type really fast before the next feeding. Now, she is a walking, running machine that never slows down and if I get anywhere near a computer, she is there trying to type along side me.

I was setting the bar for myself way too high and made it impossible for ME to reach it. Maybe a mother with a nanny; or a mother whose kids attended daycare could’ve reached my goals, but I have to start acting like a stay-at-home mom in order to get any work done. I kept fooling myself that I could carry the same vigorous workload and schedule and still get the same results like I used to.

If not, I don’t blame you because it’s not a proud thing to admit your weaknesses when you really need to be strong. I blame it on wanting to be in control all the time. I can admit, when things aren’t in order, I fall apart easily. I can’t stomach my life not in control, moving forward at a constant and safe pace. It makes me feel less of myself, less productive, and powerless because as badly as I want it, some things are just beyond my control.

I don’t know why it was so difficult for me to admit this. One day everything was under control, I yawned and everything was in disorder. But I don’t think the problem is having too much going on in life (though it would be wise to trim your schedule) or even feeling overwhelmed, but not paying attention to when the beat of life’s drum changes.

Perfect example:

When you are dancing to music, you really have to pay close attention to the beat. If you are listening to a fast song, you can make those quick, sharp moves. But, if the song changes to something slow and soothing, you’d be a fool NOT to change your steps to fit the rhythm. I’d hate to be the fool spinning madly to something that requires a graceful step.

The past couple of weeks helped me realize how important it is to be more attentive to the rhythm of my life. Though I started the term off with a steady beat, I was too stubborn and blinded by my own desire to change. And as badly as I want to keep a schedule or routine with my child, as a mother our beats are always going to change. I can’t be mad, my dance partner has two little feet.