Embrace the little moments. I’ve heard/read/said this sentence over and over, especially in the last year. Sleep deprived, unshowered, eating handfuls of chocolate chips for breakfast? Embrace the little moments. Baby wide awake at 3am, all the bedding is covered in puke. Embrace the little moments. They won’t be little forever, they won’t always want to be cuddled or nurse or get as excited about Cheerios stuck to their cubby little fingers.
Embrace the little moments. The introspective side of me craves this attitude. I so desperately want there to be meaning in the middle-of-the-night weariness when Drew and I are arguing about nothing and everything because we’re both half awake and there are two screaming children to be tended. I want to find deeper purpose in the hours spent trying to get one load of baby laundry folded and put away, a task constantly interrupted by out-of-sync nap times and crawling babies reaching for cords or digging into mashed up sticky food left beneath their high chairs. Yesterday. At the same time, I don’t want to romanticize it the way so many of the terrible mom blogs and (the worst offenders) devotionals do. Nothing makes me feel worse than stumbling upon some rosy memoir penned by a mother who used every moment wisely and for her spiritual growth; waking early for quiet time, praying over her softly sleeping children, spending nap-time writing letters of encouragement or making meals for friends in need. My mornings involve grasping for every possible minute of sleep before I absolutely must feed another child. My nap-time escape is maybe a shower, or food, or wandering the internet. You know, for the 18 minutes of precious nap overlap. No, for me embracing the little moments is more about some vague remembering (in the midst of all the chaos) that this too shall pass and I should tickle those chubby thighs and cuddle the babies extra close in this moment. That I should turn off the tv and turn on the goofy kids cd and boogie with my babies. That who cares about folded clothes when there are board books to gnaw on and cardboard boxes perfect for hide-n-seek? So, yes, the little moments are all well and good when I’m stuck at home for the 47th day in a row with some snotty kids. I appreciate the reminder to cuddle up and settle in, pj’s and Cheerios for everyone. But then sometimes we manage to get everyone fed, changed and bundled and we LEAVE THE HOUSE. Occasionally, if Drew doesn’t need it, we even ride in the car! The babies literally squeal with delight as we carry them to car seats. Fresh air! New sights! Other people! I feel fresh faced and hopeful too, when we set out. But somehow these trips always fall flat. I don’t think it’s that I have terribly unrealistic expectations or desires. If we make it through an activity without running out of back-up outfits or suffering total meltdowns, I call it a win. But after we have all put in the work of getting somewhere and appeasing the children and making the small talk, if the conversations don’t take a turn for the deep or thoughtful, my introverted soul feels like it was all a wash. A waste of effort and an exhausting expense of limited emotional energy stores. I know that rationally this isn’t true or fair, but time and again I find myself experiencing that same old alone-in-a-crowd feeling, all the more exhausting for the two kids I’m trying to keep up with. I feel completely incompetent when it comes to knowing how or when to bring up the real and honest things of life. Can I just dive in, asking (or sharing) about post-partum marital stress while we wrestle babies into car seats? Do I bring up the tragic news report I just heard about the Boko Haram massacres while we feed the kids? Does anybody else even want that kind of conversation? Motherhood is prime material for discussing the mundane, and I am grateful to be learning the skill. But what of the infinite? The beautiful? The terrible? There never seems a good time for the loaded stuff of life but it continues to wash over all the little moments with no regard for timing or the energy needed to do it justice. So how do you do it, veteran mamas? How do you make time for the deep friendships in these little years (and later!) And, once you find the time (and energy), how to you cultivate the sort of deep roots that will weather all of the moments? Please feel free to drop by with your sticky fingered little babe (or just to hold mine!) and share your secrets. We’ll be here!