With young children at home, days often feel like a collection of little moments to me. Long interrupted stretches of time don’t exist as they once did. Every nook is populated. I love this richness of mothering. Sharing a long, unexpected cuddle with our active toddler. Sharing a soul-deep giggle with our preschooler. Sharing a warm cookie (well, we each have our own) with my husband after the children are tucked in their beds. These moments are wonderful to inhabit. Of course not all moments are ones in which I wish to linger.
I have begun to notice that the moments that I enjoy the least are those that I “sacrifice” for a better moment in the future. Filling water bottles so that nobody is thirsty at the park. Folding laundry so that finding clean, unwrinkled clothing will not be a chore in the morning. Preparing a packed lunch ahead of time so that we can linger at the museum. Gathering my family by any means possible (cue screaming toddler & disappearing preschooler) so that we can have a picture-perfect meal together. Putting on snowsuits. And socks. And boots. And hats. And mittens… All of which are necessary to prevent frostbite in a Chicago winter. And yet when I intentionally sacrifice a moment, I devalue it, categorize it as burdensome & become impatient for the next moment. The better moment. When I do that, the moment’s joy is stolen & the effect is contagious.
One solution is to take those hard things and take them out of hard times – after bedtime works well for me. Hard things are easier for me to do when I don’t have to juggle them along with caring for others. But this doesn’t work for all hard things – some must be done in the company of my children. While I am quite a ways away from finding a panacea, three of our previously-difficult moments have been transformed and a pattern is emerging. More to come. Your own insights, discoveries in the meantime? Please share!