Live in the moment. There were days when those words made me want to snap at the perfectly nice woman behind me at the grocery store.
It’s been four years since I shared this with you and the words are even more relevant to my life now than they were when I first wrote them.
Because life really is what you pay attention to. I want to spend time every day making a moment or two special, even on the days that really aren’t all that special.
Live in the moment. We’ve all heard that, right? The day my son pushed my phone out of my hands was huge.
We’ve never used our cell phones at the table or been overly addicted to them by my standards, but clearly, they had become a big part of my life, if at two years old, he knew that when my eyes were on that screen, I wasn’t paying attention to his words.
There was the day that my toddlers were leaning on the gated doors to their bedrooms as I was mopping the floors and cleaning the bathroom across the hall sighing, and asking WHY I had to clean every day. Asking me when we could just snuggle.
“Treasure these moments.” “They’re only young once.” “They will be grown before you know it.” It’s hard to treasure those moments when your baby has colic, or when the reflux has trashed yet another outfit and the acidic smell of stomach juices have permeated every inch of your home.
Now, speaking with just ten years hindsight on that child, I’d give almost anything to have that smelly newborn on my shoulder with his knees tucked up almost to his chest. I didn’t grasp just how fleeting those days would be.
That there would come a time when that boy would be almost as tall as I am and so independent I simultaneously smile with pride while shouting on the inside for time to slow down.
I rushed through so many years wishing that they could buckle themselves into the car, or get their own drinks, or button their shirts and pants.
Looking back I realize that the moment they can buckle their own seatbelt is almost exactly the moment they won’t want to be carried and boosted into the car. I know now that I can still get an extra snuggle from my youngest as I lift him into the car, I wish I’d known that with his older brothers.
When my oldest turned 9 and we joked that he was halfway to adult, it stopped me in my tracks. Halfway done, knowing that I will never again do so many of the “firsts,” I am determined not to rush through another one.
I missed too many things, as I checked off my daily to-do lists. I didn’t actually listen as my children told me stories and shared their excitement with me.
I had so many things that “needed” to be done each day, I put making memories on hold.
I looked forward to the days that were set aside as “special for the kids” – vacation, weekends, parties, or holidays – while on a daily basis, I prioritized a clean house, the laundry, or a perfect dinner.
I thank God for the chance to live IN the moment now before my children are grown and out of my home. There are so many everyday moments to appreciate.
The special days are just that, special and appreciated, but the other ones are gold. Taking 15 minutes on the couch with the kids first thing in the morning is a priceless reminder of where I want my focus to be.
I remind myself every day that my actions today are what my children will remember as their childhood. Do I want them to remember a sparkling clean home?
An always organized closet? Does it matter in the end if their t-shirts are wrinkled because I forgot them in the dryer as we chose to put off folding the laundry in favor of a movie night?
Or will they remember that first thing each morning when they come out of their rooms, I drop what I’m doing and go snuggle on the couch?
Will they remember that in the midst of a crazy week, sometimes we cancel all the errands and activities outside the house and build a tent instead?
Do I want them to run through their lives with the words “hurry up,” pushing them in a needless race? Why do we say, “hurry” on days when there is no reason to hurry beyond our own impatience?
Do I want to create the memory of a mom who forever had a phone in her hand? Or would I rather their mental image be me encouraging them to grab a book and come read with me on the couch? I try to live the life today that I want my family to remember.
This has nothing to do with possessions or travel or exciting activities. I want to give my children the gift of my time. The peace that comes from knowing that the true value in our lives can never be bought, or planned for, or scheduled into a fancy future vacation.
I want a connection with my kids that will go beyond the parenting. I want them to remember, and to know beyond a doubt that they were far more important than a clean house, my job, my friends, and the extended family.
If we have a less than perfect house today, there will be plenty of time for a spotless home in the future.
I’d rather actively live in the moment and make memories with my kids than allow my to-do list and other priorities to create their childhood memories. In the end? Everything else is just stuff.