Awhile back, I won the book “Mom, You Make a Difference!” from one of my favorite bloggers, Jen at The Toy Box Years, during a giveaway. The book is basically comprised of little stories written by experienced moms to remind other moms that they do indeed make a difference in their children’s lives. It was put together and edited by Elisa Morgan for MOPS International.
When I got the book I knew it would come in handy. I decided to tuck the book away in a special place, to be taken out and read during those moments where I feel like my head is going to explode. You know, like when I have to break up yet another silly fight between the kids or after having stepped on a tiny Lego piece randomly sitting in the middle of the floor … again.
During those moments, I excuse myself from the room, grab my book and sit myself on the floor of the laundry room (or bathroom, whichever is the quickest escape) and I read a couple of those stories, written by some very wise mothers. Each story makes a good point to savor every moment as a cherished one and to know that everything you do as a mother is valuable, even the little things like doing laundry or helping the kids get dressed and brush their teeth.
On one particular day, I was trying to get some housework done. There wasn’t one spot on the floor which wasn’t covered in toys, scraps of paper carelessly thrown on the ground and clothes which were taken off but never quite reached the laundry room. The kids kept interrupting me … Cole wanted me to play the Monster Truck Wii game with him, Bella wanted me to help her complete a puzzle, and Garrett and Landon were nagging me about going to the park.
I completely lost it and said, “I have to get some things done around here. I was NOT put on this earth to be your sole source of entertainment. Believe it or not, I have other things I have to do, besides play with you all ten hours a day!” They all just stared at me with hurt in their eyes … their eager little spirits had been broken. I was plagued with guilt and all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and cry.
After excusing myself from the room, I sat on the floor of the bathroom with my book in hand, randomly thumbing through it. Then I stumbled upon an an entry called, “Choosing what matters most”, written by Carol Kuykendall and, for some reason, it called out to me. It’s funny to me that sometimes I can’t see God working in my life but surely He is because this day was the day I was meant to read this particular story.
In brief, the message in this entry is how to make the best choices about what to do when faced with many options. Like, should I just let the housework go and play with the kids, even though it killed me to see the house so disorganized and messy? Could I take ten minutes out of my cleaning to play the Wii game with Cole or help Bella with her puzzle? Sure, I could … but then the stuff I desperately needed to get done would still be waiting to be completed. It exhausted me to think about it. How do I make the right choice?
Then I got to the part she where mentions that an older, wiser person once told her, “Make the most of life’s irretrievable moments”. You know, those moments which you may never get another opportunity to experience. The author explains that ever since then, that statement helped her to make choices about what mattered the most.
She writes, ”First, think about the meaning of ‘irretrievable moments”. It means the moments that might not come around again – the ones that may happen only once. Mothering is filled with moments that keep coming back. If you miss one of them, don’t worry, because it will come around again tomorrow. So you won’t really miss it. Like unloading the dishwasher or sorting laundry. But some may happen only once. Like taking advantage of the best spring day, like helping a friend in need, like going on a field trip (with your child’s class). Those are the ones not to miss. Those are the ones to choose. Because those probably matter most”.
I believe that was the message that God wanted me to hear right then. I needed to make a good choice…one that would matter, years from now, when my children looked back on this particular day.
After putting the book away, I told Cole I would play one Monster Truck game with him on the Wii and then we would go to the park, where Bella and I could sit at one of the tables and finish her puzzle. As I packed snacks into the diaper bag, I tried to focus on their happy smiles instead of the house which was begging to be cleaned.
In the end, I made the right choice. How do I know that?
Well, during the Wii game, Cole beat me after five laps during a very difficult race, the first time this had ever happened. At the park, Landon finally learned how to slide down the pole from the climbing structure and Bella was able to swing across the entire rack of monkey bars without needing me to hold her up. She and I also completed her puzzle, which was just as challenging to me as it was to her! Nothing new happened for Garrett but he enjoyed rolling himself down the hill of grass at the park, over and over again, giggling with joy.
Those were all irretrievable moments. Had I chosen to stay home and continue cleaning, I surely would’ve missed out and so would’ve my children.
Upon returning home, the floor was still covered in toys, dust and food wrappers. The laundry still sat in the baskets, completely disorganized. The books were still messily displayed all over the floor instead of stacked neatly on the bookshelves.
I’d have the ability to get to those chores the next day or perhaps the day after that. But I would never be able to get back the precious, meaningful moments of what had occurred within the last couple hours of our day.
Now, just like the author who wrote that important message, when faced with a decision, I ask myself which one of those options could potentially be an irretrievable moment. Awhile back, I wrote a post on how to find that balance in motherhood….and I think I finally figured it out.