5.10.2015

The Heart of the Matter

I first wrote this piece in 2013 for the Celebrate Kids email newsletter, and it actually ended up going rather "viral" that year. In re-reading it today, I realized its message is still the heart of the matter in terms of what it means to be a mom. Thus, rather than coming up with something new for the occasion, I simply share this truth again.

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A few days before Mother’s Day, my husband asked me what I’d like for a gift. I knew he wanted to show his genuine appreciation and that my daughters would want to demonstrate their feelings in a concrete way, too. As is our tradition, they would each give me a sweet card sharing elements of their love for me and they’d take me out to lunch or dinner. But they wanted to present me with something tangible to mark the occasion as well.

And I felt truly blessed by his desire to bless me. But I didn’t know what to say.

A few things I could use or enjoy quickly came to mind: a new printer, a gift card to a local bookstore, a weekend retreat to catch up on my scrapbooking. But when I began to think about what I truly need as a mom, I realized it’s not something my family can wrap up and top with a bow. In fact, it’s not something they can provide at all.

Simply put, what I need most is an ability to focus each day on the heart of the matter in terms of my calling.

Motherhood is not about finishing the laundry or designing the most well balanced meals. It’s not about the 3,796 diapers a mom changes for each child. It’s not about the carpool or organizing memorable birthday parties. It’s not about volunteering in the classroom or finding the ideal homeschool curriculum. It’s not about enrolling the kids in extracurriculars and supplemental activities. It’s not about planning “perfect” family vacations.

Of course, all those tasks (and many more) fill our time. And each small job has value and purpose, demonstrating our love for our families in concrete ways. But if we focus on the utilitarian doing of motherhood without remembering to be in the moments, we’ll miss the point. We’ll spend our kids’ childhoods exhausted and bitter about all the time “they’re taking from us” and then wallow in regret once they’re grown. I know women like that; I never want to become one.

Instead, what I most need as a mom is a growing desire to be fully present with my kids – mentally and emotionally – moment by moment. I need my heart to be with them while my mind and body work through the necessary to-do lists. I need to notice the details as their faces change from those of girls into young women…to really hear their ideas and questions…to grasp the intricacies of how each is wired…to put down the work in order to hold and comfort them.

That’s not something my family can give me. It is God’s gift to me, ready and waiting. But accepting the gift is a matter of my will – each day and in each moment. That’s hard because life is so full and busy. But I know that’s the heart of the matter.

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Photo Credit: Britt-knee

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