The other day my son Samuel sat on the swings holding on to the sides and waited for me. I wanted to just get the dishes done. That was it.
I stood at my sink with a pile of dishes waiting to be washed because my dishwasher has been broken for almost a year now, and furiously scrubbed away at dried on food. Did you know that macaroni and cheese, if not scrubbed immediately, forms a bond stronger than Gorilla Glue? I had a list, this gigantic never ending massive to do list that I have to categorize. Then I looked up and saw him sitting there.
He was singing something. His little feet were scraping the dirt underneath the swing. The dirt that once used to be grass, but now had worn away into the tell-tale signs of a swing above. It’s the dirt his older brothers wore away as well, where the spring grass doesn’t even attempt to fill in because it knows that within days the feet of my little boys will wear it away. I love that dirt because it reminds me of the beauty of motherhood. It reminds me that they’re still little.
One day that dirt underneath the swing will fill with grass and I’ll long for the moments when my four year old sat on the green swing with his feet dangling as he waited for me. I’ll remember his eight year old brother sitting there, not too cool yet to sit on swings that were worn in the backyard. I don’t want him to have to wait all the time.
“I’ll come and play when I finish this. Just give me a minute to switch the laundry. How about tomorrow we read those three books? Hold up. I’ll be there soon.”
We can always be busy. I can always find one more thing to do. Then I wake up in the morning, just like today, and I realize that I have a clean sink but that I never pushed Samuel on the swing. Or that the stack of books is still sitting there waiting.
Time is a finicky thing. The dishes should be done. The laundry needs to be folded. The bills need paying, the floor sweeping, the counters wiping, the toys need to be put away and on and on. In the same breath, the kids need to be pushed on the swings, the books read and little heads need to be kissed goodnight. Motherhood isn’t about being perfect or rebuking ourselves for the times we’ve missed it.
It’s about remembering to give ourselves grace for all the times we’ve stumbled in our parenting journey. Sometimes, I don’t think we talk about all the hard times in life when we know life got in the way. Just treasure the many other moments that you did grab. It’s not about dropping everything every single time, but rather about being aware of the moments when one can drop everything and embracing them. We must try to keep in perspective that childhood is a blip in the timeline of life.
And you know what? You will mess up, without a doubt. In fact, I could write you a list of every single thing I’ve messed up (my kids probably could as well). Those mess ups hurt. It hurts when you try, and then do it again, but still feel like you’re not doing enough. Moms need grace.
We live in a world where it’s so easy to judge others and be hard on ourselves. We live in a world where presuppositions about others can be so easily made because we look at the outward and forget the heart. Maybe the mom on the iPhone in the park need not be judged but rather loved for who she is. Motherhood can become a competition. Deep down, we all just want to be good moms.
There will be times when we don’t take those pushing swing opportunities and times where we do. Stop just for a moment and breathe. Breathe in the moments that you love and the ones you don’t. Breathe it in, because time will move forward whether or not you want it to. It’s not about you being perfect. It’s about you being real.
Breathe in the beauty of this day, not the expectations, rules, and should haves, just the beauty.
—This article was first featured in the Spring/Summer 2014 Homeschooling Today Magazine.
Rachel Martin is a mother, blogger, author, encourager, and social media expert. Find her at FindingJoy.net.