In so many ways, I feel time – or rather how I spend my time – creeping in on me. I feel more and more pressure from myself to never miss an important moment with my kids. I think in some ways the slow down of COVID has helped us to take notice of these smaller moments. But I just feel so behind with the long list of upcoming “special” moments to help my kids explore, learn or celebrate. I am sure I’m not the only one who has watched (thanks to social media and in part my unwillingness to pull away from it) people celebrate so many special occasions with their kids. And I’m a stay-at-home mom with 2 kids. I know my circumstances are ideal compared to so many during this pandemic…parenting while working from home, more children or any other number of situations.
It started with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then the New Year. I really wanted to make it special for the kids but it felt like rushing through it all. After the main holidays, I sat down with Cameron and talked about how I needed to reassess the holidays because all I felt was rushed and stressed, right in the moments I was seeking to make special. Then 2020 ended with a few and 2021 began with many more…
Christmas star planet Alignment
Purim (Jewish holiday)
Black History Month
Embracing snow days (a whole month of them as it turned out!)
Never-mind birthdays and anniversaries or other special milestones that are family specific, of which we have had many during these last 6 months.
I don’t even know if I got these in chronological order right y’all…I feel like my head is spinning. If I’m being honest, this list isn’t just a list of things I put pressure on myself to do to teach my kids, but its also a list of times I felt a twinge of jealousy or comparison as I watched my friends pull this off so beautifully.
Even trying to talk with my kids about all the fun ideas from our Problem Solving Tinkergarten class seems to be moving too fast. Cooking this week, gravity the next, and then measuring, etc. I felt like we just got into a playful moment that was already being replaced by the next “thing” that deserved attention to teach my kids.
We are blessed in this family to have some subscription boxes/magazines gifted to all of us (even me!) for learning and fun. I was juggling these amazing activities and trying to figure out how to get through them all as I began to see the next ones pile up. I lost my spirit of gratefulness for a time as I became stuck in my overwhelmed state of catching up on the piling up stack of to-dos, despite that they are meant to be fun!
I take note of every cool idea from the “limited screen time family” and “Outdoor all 4” groups on Facebook. I want to catch each special moment that happens in nature and embrace each season. I want to teach them about national holidays and events. I want to teach them about the Bible and developing Godly character. I want to help my children understand all the beautiful differences God made people to have and have more intentional conversations about treating everyone equally, while honoring differences in culture or skin color – A responsibility I have felt heavily since the last summer, as I’m sure much of America did.
Yet, I have watched my kids ride a wave of playfulness that helps them imagine new worlds, where they courageously battle evil. I have noticed that the fun pile needs to wait because the moment we are in hasn’t passed yet for them. Sometimes, my epic plan for a special moment falls completely flat…like Mother’s Day a few years ago when they were whining about when the “fun craft” would be over…
Trying to force moments doesn’t often work with children because they are not yet old enough to politely go along with it out of kindness to the person who has worked to orchestrate whatever it is.
It reminds me of a tidal wave…some big jolt starts a ripple of waves, that first pull the water deeper but then emerge as a towering wave builds until it hits the shore, followed by many more. Tinkergarten has a saying that I love…”the seeds we plant at Tinkergarten bloom at home”. I’ve watched my own children and others come back around to ideas that they loved and dive deeper into their meaning as they ask to repeat the same favorite game or story over and over.
This hit me most strongly though in the midst of the list above, when we read “Winnie The Pooh” aloud as a family, given to us by my grandmother, who is 97 this year. We finished the book in January, with a fun book party in the woods that I felt certain was the culmination of a beautiful story with our family. Then my 2 and 4 year old boys continued in the story, wave after wave. With honey snacks because of the “rumbly in their tumblies”. They are still insisting on wearing every Tigger and Pooh shirt they have as soon as it’s clean (and sobbing if it’s dirty…). We listen to the soundtrack of Pooh songs constantly and dance around the room. They listen to the whole story night after night on their stories player. They ask for some version of play related to that story daily and it’s been over a month. I’ve listened to sweet moments of hearing my children use phrases like “Many happy returns of the day!” and “it’s such a blustery day”. We’ve compared characters to our own personalities and tried to match our voices to theirs. We’ve had family movie nights with more Pooh stories. We’ve read “Finding Winnie” about the incredible real bear named Winnie with an incredible story of her own that inspired the story that so many children love.
I’ve had to hold myself back from introducing the next read-aloud story…but I felt guilty anyway. Feeling like we weren’t doing enough or capitalizing on all the other events we were supposed to notice and celebrate. My “do-everything” mentality is grating against this newfound appreciation for taking it slow and lingering in the joy of what the kids are enjoying now.
As I consider my own walk of faith, I can see the same pattern. Trying to stay up-to-date with the Minor Prophets series from our preacher each week or follow a reading/study calendar and missing the substance, overlooked because of what is “supposed” to come next. Rolling over these topics in my mind, even in these blog posts, has deepened my understanding and sometimes added new questions worth exploring. As I allow myself to be freed from the checklist (see my earlier post here), I also need to be intentional about riding the wave of the moments that have already captured my attention and giving room for the seeds to plant later. When I restrict my window of allowable time to think on a topic, I’ve cut off the room for growth and re-evaluation. I had to learn to ask myself…which is more important: understanding a little about each minor prophet or really learning about one. The answer is actually a bit nuanced – there is room for both…eventually.
As I considered what the Scriptures say about this…I chuckled when I saw the results of my google search about slowing down in the Bible. The story of Mary and Martha came up first…how fitting.
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42 NLT
We have to weed out the details that might be weighing on us and determine what is worth being concerned about…then pursue it on purpose. Not asking when it will be over, but joyfully embracing it for all the time it might take.
So, if you have found yourself here with me, I’m going back to that list but with a different perspective. I am picking a few events that are important to me on the list, maybe limiting it to 3. I am refusing to place them on my list of priorities because they are “supposed” to be there or due to a certain day on the calendar. Only my family should be defining what is special to us.
My personal favorite way to ensure that the most special days are cherished is to work them in when everyone that is special to the day can enjoy it. In my family, my father was gone a lot as a pilot in the Air Force. Though not always by choice, we found ourselves shifting celebrations to times when he could be home. When I was in college, we celebrated Thanksgiving on November 14th one year because it was when we were all available and it’s still a special memory to me that sticks out more than the rest.
Most of those days can wait…or will come around again and again to take hold on a different year. There will be time for all of those events from my list above and diving into their meaning. There will be new stories and loves that will replace the ones capturing the attention of my children. With room to linger, they will come all on their own most of the time.
What special days do you want to invest in to give your children (or yourself) time to embrace? What moments do you want to replay until they become cherished memories? I want to live in those moments. With the flood of options available to all of us that take our attention or add to our “to-do list”, I have to become intentional about what I put on the list. Then I need to protect the time needed to be fully enjoyed.
I hope I can learn to ride the wave of the moment until it’s fully spent…in my parenting, in my choices for homeschool teaching in the coming years, and in my own walk of faith. Out of a fear of missing each special moment according to the calendar, I risk losing many of the moments right in front of me altogether.