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If her closet was full of twirly skirts, and only twirly skirts, my daughter would be the happiest, twirliest little girl you could imagine. When trying on skirts and dresses, she will do a quick spin or two to test the skirts "twirly-ness." If it doesn't pass the test, off it goes.
This dress has placed #1 in the "twirliest" category. Regardless of the temperature or where we are going, she would choose to wear this dress all day, every day (she'd probably even sleep in it if she could!).
As I was thinking about the importance of twirly skirts in her little life, I came to the conclusion that she loves twirly skirts likely because they are fun, make her feel pretty, elicit smiles and giggles, and she thoroughly enjoys them.
As I related this to my adult life, I have been thinking about the things that I enjoy....not the to-do list parts of my day, but the extra, "nonessential" things that bring me joy.
As a busy mother, I realize that I have let these simple joys take a back seat as I believe that I don't have the time or need for them anymore. But I do. And to be the best wife, mom, and friend, I need to make the time for myself again. My Hero gave me a great book, The Fringe Hours. I'm almost finished and I will hopefully share some wisdom I have learned soon.
In the meantime...today while my girl asks to wear her twirliest skirt once more, I am going to enjoy this early morning quiet space to look at pictures and write and then later I'll bake something delicious...maybe even a new recipe I've saved to make one day but never made the time!
What do you, my fellow busy mother friend, need to do? What are your God-given passions? Do you need to paint? Read a book? Play an instrument? Scrapbook? Encourage a friend? Volunteer? Enjoy a massage? Get a pedicure? Roll the windows down and sing your favorite song? Sit on your front porch and relax for a few minutes?
Take a few moments for YOU and enjoy today.
You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it. ~Charles Bixton
Thank you, Levi, for wanting to see me so much every morning that you wake up hours before the sun comes up calling "Mommy." As tired as I am, I love folding up around you in your crib-sized toddler bed for as many extra minutes of quiet cuddle time as you will allow.
Thank you for your sweet, baby voice. I love how you pronounce words such as "fire twuck," "lellow," "free" (3), and "mall" (small). You are too cute and you make me smile as I think about the fact that you won't always talk like a little baby boy. You remind me to rest in the present.
Thank you for telling me that I am beautiful, sparkling, and shining. You are going to be an incredible husband one day. Until then, you can keep telling me that I look "boo-ti-ful." :)
Thank you for being constantly on the go. You are the reason I do not need a gym membership!
Thank you for doing silly things just so other people will laugh. I need to laugh more, don't I?
Thank you for reminding me to keep calm and take a deep breath when "quiet time" turns into disaster zone in the blink of an eye. Moments like these make me pray continuously so that I won't lose my mind. Your Mama likes cleanliness, organization, and neatness. You don't. Maybe we need to meet in the middle...you can teach me to be more carefree and I can teach you the importance of order and organization?
Thank you for making me feel like the best chef around. You still eat like a champ and I greatly appreciate it!!!
Thank you for wrapping your arms around my neck when you ask me to hold you (and when I pick you up just because I can). You still melt into my arms. I prayed for a cuddly baby while I was pregnant with you and God certainly answered that prayer.
Thank you, my sweet boy, for asking me to "wok" (rock) you every night before bed. Thank you that after a few minutes of prayers, songs, and cuddles you want us to get under the green blanket in your bed and snuggle until you fall asleep. Do you know that you rest your hands on my cheeks to fall asleep? As your breathing slows down and deepens, and your little body relaxes, you allow me a few moments to unwind from our wild and crazy day. A few minutes to pray for you. Time to think about all the things I am so grateful for. And time for the frustrations and weariness I felt throughout the day to subside and for the most important aspects of my life to come to the front.
Thank you, my Levi, for the true joy you are. Thank you for being you. As I wrote in Addison's letter, nothing has made me depend on Jesus more and nothing has made me want to teach someone more about Jesus than being your Mommy and Addison's Mommy. I love every day with you, and I am more thankful for you than you will ever know. You are the perfect gift, and Daddy and I adore you.
Thank you for asking me if we could paint today. You don't think about the mess that will follow, but I do. Maybe I shouldn't.
Thank you for asking me to play the ABC Letter game with you. You don't realize that the moment I get your brother in his room for nap time (which unfortunately is usually just "quiet time" at this point, but it isn't very quiet at all...) is my springboard to getting as many items checked off of my to-do list as I can. But that's ok. I will make the time to play a game with you because you are more important than any empty checkbox waiting to be marked.
Thank you for inviting me to go on your pretend beach trip. You know I love the beach, don't you? Thank you for driving our imaginary car. You let me sit back and enjoy the scenery. I'm still amazed that it took us .2 seconds to get there. :)
Thank you for asking me to dance with you. You know dancing isn't a part of my daily routine unless you ask me to? But I always enjoy dancing with you, especially when you smile and copy my movements and then you ask me to imitate you. You are a better dancer than me. Always have been. I love that about you...how you are so care-free and expressive. You are beautiful, my girl. I have a lot to learn from you.
Thank you for laughing at something silly that I wouldn't have laughed at if it wasn't for you.
Thank you for watching out for your brother when we went somewhere new. You took his hand, encouraged him, made sure he was safe, taught him what to do, and never let him out of your sight. You are the best big sister. Ever.
Thank you for offering to help me make breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You have such a servant's heart, and I will welcome your assistance and company any time. Thank you.
And thank you for hugging my arm and telling me you love me while you were walking next to me at the grocery store. That means so much to me. I love you too, with every ounce of my being. You are a precious treasure to me and Daddy. You are a ray of sunshine. God blessed us tremendously with you.
When you were born I never realized how much YOU would teach me about what it means to become more like Christ. Thank you for the hard days, the good days, the tiring days, the restful days, the sad days, the happy days, and every day in between. Each moment of each day requires me to make a choice...do I choose to honor Christ with my actions, thoughts, and words? Being a parent is wonderful, but also very challenging. Nothing has made me depend on Jesus more and nothing has made me want to teach someone more about Him.
We've all heard the saying, "The days seem long but the years are short" as it relates to raising children. With My Hero's schedule, these days can certainly seem very long. All too easily, I find myself focusing on the exhaustion and messes and the constant desire to be alone for more than 30 seconds. I am gently reminded that this is a season...even though it seems like some of the less-desirable characteristics of toddlerhood will last forever, they really won't. This present everydayness of the everyday will soon just be memories. Stepping back and looking at the bigger picture makes me appreciate even the messes and neediness of my children right now. It won't be like this for long.
Focusing on the gifts of this present season...
Daddy walks in the door from work. He's greeted with his little boy's delight, "DADDY!!! HUG!", and left with a perfect vanilla yogurt handprint on his navy uniform.
An unusual 3:45am "Mama" wake-up cry simply because he wanted to be cuddled and rocked by his Mama and only his Mama.
My sigh of relief come 8:00pm when both of my babies are tucked in bed.
Holding hands across the street. Feeling that little hand fiercely pull away from mine in an act of independence. Training them in obedience and smiling as that squishy little hand returns to rest in mine.
Singing and dancing together and performing a "choreograph" as my daughter requests
Asking, "do you want to go to the playground?" and seeing their obvious excitement by their jumps of joy and squeals.
Knowing that even the simplest thing can bring the greatest excitement and happiness to their little lives.
Shopping like a crazy lady while they are peacefully eating their cookie from the grocery store bakery. Fearing what will most certainly happen in approximately 2 minutes....the little one will soon be determined to get out of the shopping cart and the older one will have to go to the bathroom, immediately.
Baby voice saying "Wuv woo Mommy."
Hearing their morning wake up noises on the monitor and praying that God would help me through this day. Dependence.
Reminding myself that they are young. So young...less than the fingers on one hand. What a privilege it is to guide and cheer for them as they grow up.
Photo credit: Mary Anne Morgan Photography
Photo credit: Mary Anne Morgan Photography
Letter magnets splattered across the refrigerator proudly displaying crayon masterpieces.
Inviting them to get the mail with me and bracing and mentally preparing for the resistance that will come when it's time to walk back inside. A teachable moment (again).
Washing dishes. Looking up one plate later and finding every couch cushion and pillow thrown across the floor. Laughter. Giggles. Squeals. A reminder to just let them be kids and have fun.
Remembering that a mess can also be called learning, creativity, and good for the senses.
Sweeping crumbs, both big and small, after every meal. We have more than we need.
Waking up very early (or earlier than early) so I can hopefully, maybe, possibly take an uninterrupted shower and dry my hair. Relying on God for my strength.
Hugs....oh, the tight little-armed squeezes around my neck.
Like the vast majority of mothers, I love my children fiercely, unconditionally, and whole-heartedly. I am not a "crier," but I find myself with tears in my eyes as I marvel at who God has entrusted to My Hero and me. They are more than an answer to every prayer.
Above all else, children are a GIFT.
It hurts to reflect on the times my selfish lens has taken over and I've viewed my GIFTS as an inconvenience. The reason my house cannot get clean. The reason I'm always tired. The reason I desperately want alone time.
If God gave my daughter to us as a GIFT and my son to us as a GIFT, then how would He desire for me to spend my days unwrapping these one-of-a-kind presents?
I know. He wants me to marvel and to be overflowing with gratitude and joy. He wants me to treat them with patience and understanding. He wants me to use calm, gentle words. He wants me to make the effort to connect with them on a deep, emotional level. He wants me to lovingly correct their behavior and teach them about their Maker.
Recently I've been making an intentional effort to interact with my children while viewing them though the lens of a grateful heart for the most precious gifts I could have ever been given...
After singing songs, praying, and cuddling with my sweet boy before bed I hear his happy, toddler voice say, "pees tickcul?" This is my cue to lean over and kiss his neck over and over until he laughs so hard he needs to catch his breath. Then he holds out his baby hand and says, "pees tickul?" Again, I kiss the palm of his hand until I can't help myself but laugh in response to his contagious giggles. And I think.....God is happy. He sees me fully loving and ENJOYING the gift He gave me.
I'm pushing my daughter on the swing. She can pump her thin, long legs all by herself but she still asks me to push her. I like being needed. I like talking to her and listening. We sing songs. We talk about Who made the birds, blue sky, tall trees and the butterfly that flew by. And I think....God is happy. He sees me investing in the gift He gave me, getting to know her heart, and ENJOYING her.
This Mother's Day, I hope that you can join me ENJOYING the gifts God has given us...our children.