Fully Present

I saw an incredible commercial the day after Mother’s Day…

I watched it while being tackled by my 16-month-old, and I literally was a basket of tears. It reminded me of the sacredness of my role as a mom. Isn’t Mother’s Day just wonderful? Not only did I get a hot date, I got some money to shop with, and lunch at my favorite place. Plus our church handed out free McAlister’s Deli sweet teas, which basically means I floated on cloud nine all afternoon. But most of all, I love it because I feel again the significance of my calling. Being a mom is not for the faint of heart. And being a good mom requires intention and self-sacrifice.

Of course, only 24 hours after that blessed holiday, I was carrying a screaming toddler out of Costco, and thinking how I just don’t know if I can do this anymore. It’s so easy to lose perspective.

Why am I a mom again?

Who said this was fun?

Such terrible questions, but ones I still ask in my darkest of motherhood moments. Last night after I tucked my kids in, I had a little moment with the Lord. Why is this so hard? And I felt like He very kindly showed me how much of my recent days I’ve been rushing and busy with things OTHER than being a mom. I get in a hurry to clean the house for company, to make a good dinner, to do the laundry, to get a minute to read a book, to write, to work out; and I see my kids as in the way, rather than the primary goal of my life right now.

Being Fully Present

I had to take a minute and admit He was right (no big surprise there). But with that, how do I fix it? How do I get out of the rut I’ve dug for myself? How do I break my crazy cycle and actually invest in what is most important? And I felt like He just reminded me that I need to be fully present with them, and that only comes by structuring my days well.

Like the Psalmist says in Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The word for number in that passage is the Hebrew word manah, and it means “to count, to reckon, number, assign, tell, appoint and prepare.”

When we prepare our days well, we gain a heart of wisdom. I’m learning that the discipline of being fully present is actually decided in advance, and depends on strategic decisions on my part.

I wrote an article on Busy Moms of Faith about the “big rocks” in my life, and living fully present depends on a healthy diet of knowing my big rocks, or largest priorities in life. If I plan out space for my priorities in a day, I am freed up to be fully present with my children.

When my son was finally sleeping through the night, I began to establish what one of my friends calls “healthy rhythms.” Obviously, some seasons of our lives as moms are almost impossible to have any sort of healthy routine–and perhaps the healthiest place for us, in those seasons, is at peace with the lack of routine. That’s not just relegated to having a newborn… When my kids are sick, I have to be flexible. When my son had surgery, I had to re-learn how to throw a schedule out the window. When family is in town, when we’re on vacation…there are a million other exceptions to the rule of healthy rhythms. It’s important that I recognize when to keep the schedule, and when to embrace the gift of grace to abide in the crazy.

But most days, healthy rhythms serve me well. And although many of our rhythms will look differently, I think a common MUST for all of us moms is alone time. A time where we intentionally get up earlier to spend time with Jesus. My kids are up early, and I get up earlier. I used to think that sounded awful, but it actually is now one of my favorite times of day. For at least one hour-long stretch, I get to be a little bit needy. I get to ask Jesus what’s ahead, I get to ask Him to love on me. I get to read, think, breathe, and sip a cup of dark roast coffee while I languidly rest. Doesn’t it just sound so lovely? I used to be afraid that by getting up earlier, I’d end up dragging by the end of the day, but the truth is that one hour propels me throughout my day. No, I can’t stay up til 11 reading anymore, but I find that’s okay with me. I’m good with the exchange. Obviously, our schedules vary with our kids’ ages, schooling, and schedules; but I know for me, time with the Lord FIRST is key. It’s like laying a good foundation for the house that I build every day with my actions and choices.

I love how Proverbs 14:1 says, “A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.”

Another key to being fully present for my kids is limiting my time on social media. It’s easy to just pick up my phone while my kids are racing around the house in cars and on princess bikes, and entertain myself without their involvement. But I notice if I am checking Instagram every few hours, my brain is full of other peoples’ thoughts and ideas. I’m not really present with my kids. I’ve found that if I set a time every day where I know I can look at social media, then I am not anxiously just trying to look at it whenever I’m bored or overwhelmed. It’s a good discipline for me, and it helps eliminate unnecessary distractions. I am more able to interact with my kids when I’m not simultaneously trying to interact with the hundreds of friends or followers I might have.

I’ve been noticing that even good things, like podcasts and sermons and worship music, can distract me from my kids if I don’t set aside time for it. I get annoyed at their banter when I’m trying to “feed my soul;” and I feel like in my attempt to be holy, I miss the sacred gift that motherhood is to the heart of God every day. The best thing I can do is establish a time when I can listen to a sermon or watch a podcast when it’s not going to steal from their time with me.

Being fully present looks different in every household, I’m sure. But for my kids, being fully present means that my hands are tied, there isn’t a list of to-do’s hanging over my head. It looks like I actually plan things out and try to predict what the day will throw my way before I launch into it with reckless abandon. I know that in 13 years, when my nest is empty, I will look back and wish I had to structure my days to be fully present with my kids again. So I’m attempting to do it now, while I still can revel in the joy of those warm little bodies nuzzling next to me, and those sweet little voices chirping up at me.

Are you being fully present?

Copyright © Charis Freije, Moms of Faith®, All Rights Reserved

Being Fully Present: A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. - Proverbs 14:1

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