Ever felt like Adda in A Bug’s Life—multi-tasking, running around frantically, but in circles?
Or like Winnie the Pooh…as he micro-manages to try to follow his precise, unmoving schedule to create the perfect party, only undermining it by his over-exertion, and focus on the list rather than on the lives the party’s intended to touch?
We also get there sometimes. In moments like those of Adda or Pooh, we seem to be chasing peace but finding activity. And there’s always an activity we can find or create; always and forever a to-list.
How do we shift our weight and see our mommyhood and our lists in perspective?
Children teach that kind of moment-presentness. They gaze at your every move as a toddler; they marvel at a truck, or a wave, or a goldfish, or a cloud with a light shaft through it, or big flag, or a tiny pebble.
Each moment counts. And each moment counts for us, when we’re with them. Our mothering is less about all the busyness, and more about our child’s business. Sometimes I think we do less “for” our young children, and do more “with” them. It takes time, not just quality time here and there, as the myth goes.
It takes consistent time.
Last year I planted lots of healthy veggies in my square-foot-garden. I tended it faithfully for weeks, as the season progressed, but one week I was pre-occupied. I forgot all about watering my garden. My tomato plants shriveled and my beautiful bulky red cabbage leaves cried for mercy. I lost them all. If you’re a master gardener—and we’ll make it clear that I am not—you know that the garden tended daily is the one that thrives. A little care, a little weed extraction, a little watering, a little extra fertilizer, and a little love go a long way. But as per my experience, neglect that garden for even a week and the task is either multiplied or the garden is gone. While my attention lapsed, small gardening concerns became big ones. Plants got strangled and starved. Weeds imploded.
Similarly, we are the gardeners of our children’s souls. I like what one mom, Frances, said:
A sixth sense, fed by daily and seemingly minor contacts, helps us detect when growth needs to be encouraged, redirected, or pruned back; when bruised hearts need soothing; when a situation or question needs to be attended to now. Despite our faults and flaws, despite our children’s vast differences, we have the potential to be the best possible parent for each child—a task that requires daily nurturing.
Children do not wait. A short year to us is an eternity to them. They live in a different time zone, a world of their own that brings hourly changes.
Many of the things we need can wait. The child cannot. Right now is the time his bones are being formed, her blood is being made, and his senses are being developed. To him we cannot answer tomorrow. His name is today” (“Time and the Single Parent, Ensign, July 2000 ).
Let’s re-think. Sure, there will always be more to get done than can be done. But let’s not leave the most important thing undone—being “with” our children and nurturing them in love.
No other career is more worthy or more important. And the wash, it will get done.
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