Friday, June 21, 2013

Life Lessons

I have discovered that as a mother to three there are so many variables in my life that I no longer have control over. And as if to reconfirm this fact I have had some pretty intense experiences to remind me that someone else in charge. Someone who is wiser, than I am. Someone who is more patient, than I am. Someone who loves me and is willing to gently guide me through this crazy, hectic, but mostly wonderful life. 

So it goes to say that over the past few years God has thrown me a couple of curve balls. He's slid on a couple more 50lb weights on to my bar. He has chided me far more often for not seeing His ways... because after all, I SHOULD know better. Ironically enough I have these conversations with my kids daily. 'Quincy, why did you hit Braxton?' Because he took my car. 'Would you like it if Braxton hit you?' No. 'Then why is it okay for YOU to hit HIM?' Usually this results in him lowering his head and looking away because he already knows the answer. And yet, I continually have to remind him of these things because he's only a little child, and of course, little children tend to forget things quite quickly-- like within a five minute time frame.

Much is the same in my relationship with God, lately. I know I should forget the house work far more often, and play with the kids. I know I should take more time to teach my children the things which will lay their spiritual foundations. I know I should spend more time talking with my husband than merely sitting next to him on the couch. Sometimes it's so easy to see where I could use improvement in my life, and in my role as mother and wife. And more often than not, looking at all those areas in which I could improve in becomes really discouraging. 

After all, it's far easier to fuss about a filthy (by my standards) house than to spend hours playing with cars with my boys. Or is it? Earlier this week I had this tender experience where I was gently scolded by God once again-- I'm sure He's thinking 'How many times have I showed you this?'. You see, I think there are often times when I like to pat myself on the back and congratulate myself on "surviving another day." But life isn't about surviving. It's about learning, loving, and growing. My kids aren't the only ones who are learning here... I am too. I pride myself on having a clean home. It gives me satisfaction to see my house neat and orderly. It makes me feel happy and accomplished and calm. I should stop here to state that when you have three busy boys in your home this is a nearly impossible task. And so I've learned to accept a point. I let the usual OCD tendencies relax a little bit so that my kids can have "fun"-----(which in case you were wondering, "fun" usually means they dump out every basket of toys they have and play this game of who can spread the "fun" all over the house in as many places as possible, the quickest? It's a great game. Really.) 

So back to my experience. Tyler had to work a half day last Saturday (something he rarely does) and so I made it my personal goal that I was going to do a super clean sweep of the house by 11:00. I wanted to have all the chores done maximizing what would be left our our Saturday when he got home. Anyone who knows me, knows that when I'm on a mission, nothing can deter me from it. I was focused. By 10:30 my last project was cleaning the toilets (one of my personal favorites with three boys... well, three that use the toilet-- did I mention that I can't wait til they can clean their own toilet? Yeah.) As I was hurrying along my way the older boys were fighting playing in their room and Zayden was mostly following me around while I cleaned. He would get whiny and beg me to pick him up. So, I'd pick him up, kiss him and put him back down. After several attempts to get my attention this way, and clearly not being satisfied with my behavior he chose to plop himself down on my lap where I knelt on the bathroom floor while attempting to clean the toilet.

My first natural instinct was to feel frustrated, didn't he know I was trying to finish cleaning? I mean, I was almost done. If only he'd stop pestering me to hug and hold him than I'd be done that much quicker.... and then I would have all the time in the world to snuggle with him! And as soon as I'd let the thought finish rolling through my head another took its place. This thought was more powerful. It rang with truth and immediately I knew where it came from: 'How many times will he want to run up to you for hugs? How long will he let you hold him when he's older?'  Immediately I knew the error of my ways. It was a simple, but powerful message and I stopped my cleaning right then and there. I scooped Zayden more fully onto my lap and kissed his head. I watched his eyes light up and he grinned at me. His face was full of wonderment and he looked at me like I was the coolest person in the world. I hugged him tighter and kissed his cheeks. He squirmed in my arms, but instead of pulling away just giggled like I was tickling him. Then he just sat there calm and still in my lap, soaking in some much needed love. I nuzzled my face next to his head and softly told him how much I loved him. I told him how someday he wasn't going to think sitting on his mom's lap and letting her squeeze and kiss on him would be cool, but that for the time being I was going to enjoy every second of it. In total this took about 5 minutes of time. A mere five minutes of my day where I gave my undivided attention to my child to express just how much I love him and allowed him to convey the same to me. 

By the end of the day I was shocked appalled by my behavior. I couldn't believe I had let myself get so caught up in the little menial tasks of every day life that I was neglecting my baby's needs. I mean, sure he was fed and clean, and I had kissed him a few times... but I was ignoring the message he was trying to tell me: 'I need you mom. I need your time.' I couldn't help, but think that God would never ignore me because he was too busy, especially if I said "I need you." I vowed right then to change my ways. I told myself I needed to refocus, because if I wasn't careful enough I might just miss all those subtle messages of when my children really need me. I was reminded that some day they'll get older and taller... their voices will get deeper and they'll have to wear deodorant... they'll have friends and want to be far more independent, but that they'll still need guidance and love throughout this life. They might just need a hug one day, although this hug will probably be disguised in the form of fast food or something more socially acceptable... but I don't want to miss it because I was too "busy". 

Being a mother has been one of the most difficult and rewarding things I have ever done with my life, and though I'm still like a child, learning and re-learning the error of my ways I find that when I look back on all I've done with my life so far, that I haven't done too poorly after all. 

And to reiterate this notion I want to share the happier part of my 'life's lesson'....

This quote is written on our kitchen dry erase board: 
"Life isn't about waiting for the storms to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain." 

Yesterday the boys and I went on a short spontaneous walk to a neighborhood apartment play ground and as we were getting ready to leave it started to rain. It was a few drops as I buckled Zayden into the jogger stroller... and then it was a thousand more tiny droplets which fell on our heads. The boys were dressed in cotton sweaters, shorts (which they insisted on) and tennis shoes and I couldn't help, but kick myself for not being stronger in opposing their wardrobe choices because I knew they'd be quite wet by the time we walked back home. Sure enough what started as a light drizzle became and full on down pour in seconds-- like the kind of rain that one drop is as big as a quarter, kind of down pour. And as we walked/ ran down the sidewalk from the leaves of one tree's shelter to the next I just decided to laugh. My boys were happy running through puddles. We all had water streaming down our cheeks from our hair being so thoroughly soaked. Our clothes were plastered to our skin from the weight of the rain water. 

Oh how good it felt to just be in the moment, laughing with my children. We even took a picture to show just how wet we got, though it was hard to see with the flash....

I might not be perfect, just yet, but at least I know I've learned one thing: how to dance, run in the rain.

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