“It’s all going too fast,” is the thought that has been consistently occurring to me over these last few weeks. Something about having a new baby in the house makes life slow down and speed up all at once.
Sometimes I catch a glimpse of him looking, once again, just a little bit bigger; his cheeks a little fuller. And I think, “How did that happen? Haven’t I been watching you this whole time?”
It’s a thought that must resonate with many of us mothers, because this video recently went viral on social media:
It’s a touching reflection on the fleeting years of motherhood, and the desire to go back to previous years when our children were younger. It’s a tribute to the feeling that life is passing too quickly before us.
For me, there is often also a sense of “I wish I had done this differently” or “I wish I hadn’t been so focused on that“. It’s not a strong sense of regret, but it is regret nonetheless.
A while ago I read an article by Jess Connell about intentionality in marriage, and one part particularly resonated with me, regarding more than just marriage:
This is my real marriage. This is my real family.
THIS IS MY REAL LIFE. THIS IS MY REAL MARRIAGE.
I won’t get these moments back; I won’t get a re-do.
The way I’m living now can’t be altered later. The way my marriage is now can’t be erased and re-written. I need to walk in the way that I will want to have walked when I am old.
I need to walk in the way that I will want to have walked when I am old.
How do we do that, when it comes to mothering?
How do we live in a way that we will look back on and feel content with how we lived? To do away with the regrets and the “if only I could go back” feelings?
I’m not talking about a bumper sticker type of “no regrets” attitude, where you live recklessly and pretend your mistakes are not mistakes.
Obviously, none of us are perfect, so we will all make mistakes. But I think we can get to a place of contentment with our mothering through God’s grace, as we seek to grow daily and live in a way that honours Him.
Here’s how I’m trying to do that:
- Be fully present in each moment. Banish all thoughts of “I can’t wait for this to be over.” This means, admiring the perfect chubby cheeks of my baby as he nurses in the night, instead of watching the clock and counting the hours unslept. It means being a bit more hands on with my daughter getting dressed, even though she can do it all by herself, instead of huffing and puffing about the time and issuing ultimatums. Even in the crappy carpet scrubbing moments, there is joy to be found in the satisfaction of the filthy made clean – I shouldn’t wish these moments away, no matter how hard or horrible they are.
- Take the time to teach and train. Sometimes I forget that children don’t automatically know how to do things, and I expect them to “get it” the first time I give them an instruction. But this just results in frustration and missed teaching opportunities. When I slow down and properly explain things, they learn something new and we all enjoy each other more. This can mean explaining anything from how to bake muffins to why we need to wear seatbelts. Every day is filled with opportunities to teach and train our kids – I want to be careful not to miss them!
- Respect and submit to my husband. As children grow up and into the world, they are told from multiple sources – TV shows, school, peers – that authority is a bad, bad thing and sometimes a necessary evil (at best). Within our families, we have the opportunity to model first-hand that authority is a good, God-designed concept. Obeying God is a good enough reason to submit to my husband, but modelling this for our children is a huge motivator for me here.
- Show my dependence on God through conversation and prayer. I try to season our conversation throughout the day with comments about how God can help us to do things, or what He would want us to do in given situations. We often talk about asking for His help to do the right thing, even when we don’t want to. In fact, I didn’t realise how much we must talk about it until the other day when my daughter said one morning, “Mummy, maybe you should ask God to help you not be mean to us.” I’m ashamed to say I’d been yelling at them more lately due to stress and frazzled nerves. But I think it’s good for them to see that even Mummy needs Jesus, as humiliating as that was to hear.
Anyway, I have a long way to go and to grow here, but these are my thoughts at the moment as far as contented, no regrets mothering. What would you add?