Today I was going through an app that allows me to see pictures I posted on social media from the time I had a smartphone, and as I was swiping left I came across a cherished photo. It was a black and white shot of my firstborn from six years ago, and I felt a bittersweet ache in my heart that got stuck as an emotional lump in my throat. As I gazed at the precious memory my eldest girl walked up.
Y’all, my child has gotten so tall, and when I saw her standing over my lounge chair poolside, in contrast to the tiny, chubby-cheeked babe on my phone, I was struck straight through the heart, as if an arrow representing the swift passage of time had pierced through to my marrow.
The most peculiar part, to me, was that I didn’t remain melancholy over how fast it all goes. Instead I felt a sense of contented joy, like everything was progressing as it should. I had zero regret for the things I should of/could of done, and though I wasn’t claiming a perfect parenting plan, I was pleased with our journey thus far. I didn’t feel so much like it was a cruel, fleeting season, but rather one I was savoring with vigor.
When I first became I mother I realized it was my greatest responsibility and most enjoyable tasking of life. I quickly discovered I wanted nothing more than to leave my nine to five and find a way to mother more. I was blessed at the time to find a position at my hospital where I could work less and be home more with little financial difference. Cause, come on, although a lot of men and/or women desire to see their children more, it doesn’t seem like it can always work out that way. I never took for granted the opportunity I had been afforded to spend time with my children while also working as a bedside nurse.
As life changed and seasons followed suit, I found circumstances altered, but my greatest goal never changed. Here’s what I didn’t want. I didn’t want other people raising my babies. They were my reward, and I didn’t want to hand that prize to another. But more than that, they were my legacy, my responsibility (which I took very seriously), and the ministry God had given me for this particular time of my life. I knew that my largest and most monumental heart desire was to be able to instill in my children the things I had been unaware of until adulthood. I wanted to raise them wholly aware of God’s hand in their life, and I desired to equip them with the wisdom of knowing they were not alone in the battles they faced. I needed them to see firsthand how joy-filled a life serving the Lord could be. I wanted them to have the opportunity to see things it had taken me forty years to discover.
This hefty, utmost knowledge I knew couldn’t be passed along in a thirty minute Sunday School lesson. It was something that must be instilled, but also modeled. It was something I had to walk out, showing them daily, and I wanted to be able to do it. As parents, my husband and I have made sacrifices to maintain our goals. We have downsized and let go of materialistic treasures, in favor of investing in what we consider our Heavenly Treasure. Our babies. To gain time with them we had to let go of the things that stole our time from them. I’m grateful we were given the desire and insight to make this work.
Not that I’ve obtained it yet, like, where I totally want to be, but I can look backwards and see improvement over time. Heck, a mere two-three years ago I was stuck in the hamster wheel too. I was running ragged, overbooking my schedule, over-extending myself, and sadly teaching my children that was normal. We were always going, rushing, and trying to fill commitments that weren’t necessary. Laundry was a chore, grocery shopping grueling, and the supper-time crunch exasperating. Why we call this normal, I’ll never know. I guess because it’s the way it’s always been, but with the addition of everyone critiquing our lives as we narrate them, or coveting how smoothly someone else’s story appears.
Thankfully, I can now proceed without regret, knowing I’m investing the most in what matters most. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on my children’s childhood. I have a ringside seat to their life. We homeschool largely in part because of our desire to not miss the majority of their life. I saw a story recently of schools possibly extending their hours. Can you imagine?!
We found an area of the country where we can work less but make a larger income, and on top of that we found a way to cut down our expenses. It was scary leaving our comfort zones, but totally worth it in the end. As the world gets faster and the focus convoluted, I see more people choosing to do things the way we are doing. Downsizing, minimalizing, and seeking opportunities to focus on family more. I’m thankful we realized it’s okay to step outside of the norm and pursue something different. Almost every day I see people voice their unhappiness with the pace of their life or with the lack of quality time with loved ones.
I guess I would just say to every discontented parent, “you can do it!” If you’re not happy with life, change it. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be worried about what other people think, and don’t be scared to fail. You will never know if your life can improve if you stay stuck in your rut. Break out.
Maybe you’re happy with the way things are. That’s wonderful! But if you’re not consider this post your call to duty. It’s time to invest in what’s important in life, and it’s the people you love. I took care of a patient once who was on his death bed. In pleasant conversation I had told his wife about my life, how I traveled in an RV with my family, homeschooling, working a little, and having fun a lot. She was intrigued and enamored, as most people are, but I’ll never forget her words.
“I wish we had done that.”
You see, they had wanted to travel as a family, but they had waited. They waited until things settled down. They waited until a certain season passed. They waited until Junior finished school. Then they waited until retirement. One month into traveling her husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
“It’s too late now,” she had said.
Consider this your wake up call, your sign, if you will. Don’t wait another minute to follow your dreams and spend time doing what you love. You just think there’s no way out, but there’s always another way. It may involve sacrifice, and it might be frightening. People may try and talk you out of it, but I am encouraging you to try anyway. You will never know unless you take that step, and you’ll only regret what you didn’t do.