When I was gone for six days at Mount Hermon, I did my best to pay attention. To everything. Not just to the conference content and the advice that was being heaped into my lap, but also to the condition of my heart and the state of my mind.
I found that during my time away, I missed my husband the most (as it should be).
Then, I missed my kids as the people they are — I missed Owen’s nonstop talking, Audrey’s blossoming maturity and Benjamin’s curiosity and sweetness.
But I didn’t miss parenting.
I didn’t miss the everyday grind of making sure I get these little people where they need to be, getting them fed and clothed appropriately for the weather and attended to and heard. I didn’t miss breaking up fights or coming up with more creative discipline techniques or the laundry they seem to magically multiply. I didn’t miss the feeling of tiredness that washes over me when I have to come up with three meals a day that are nutritionally balanced and also something they’ll eat. I didn’t miss giving time-outs, giving a thousand reminders or getting huge protests and whining in response.
I missed my kids, but I did not miss the logistics of mothering.
And it’s sent me into just a bit of a tailspin. Because from Go until bedtime each day, especially on weekdays, I feel like logistics is all I do. I’m spending the majority of my days on something I dreaded coming back to.
It’s like going on vacation, and then at the end of it realizing how you really feel about your job.
Logistics over love
It might be the stage of parenting we’re at now. Our kids are little, their needs are all different, but they all still need. A lot. It’s exhausting work.
But I also wonder if it’s my focus that’s off. I wonder if I just opened my eyes and saw what was in front of me, I would be able to enjoy it more.
Are you like this, too? My mind is constantly leaping ahead to the next five things. When I’m in one moment, I’m not all there — not by a long shot. I’m constantly two or three steps beyond it, thinking about when we need to get out the door, working backward to figure out what tasks need to be checked off before then, and then also working forward to the steps beyond so I have everything I need with me.
Even when we’re having playtime with nothing to do for another hour or so, I’m always calculating how I can fit a load of laundry in between our activities or how I can get some yardwork done while we’re playing outside.
I wonder if staying present in my interactions with my kids would help me see parenting differently. Even if I don’t love what we’re doing at the time, even if it’s a boring game or the fifth time he changed his mind about the breakfast he wanted, if I just focused on the curl of his hair, I wonder what it would do to my heart.
If I just took a breath and stared into her eyes for a moment, pulled her in for a hug when I feel so proud of her like I do 20 times a day. I wonder if I stopped my mind racing ahead and zoomed out on our life, in that moment, distilled down to its essence, I wonder if I would see that it’s not just logistics I’m doing every day.
Making a meal is love. Sweeping the floor is love. Checking the lunch menu is love. Insisting on long sleeves on a cold day is love. Even doing the laundry is love.
When all I can see are logistics, I miss it. I can’t see the love for the logistics spinning around in my mind. In the big picture, when I zoom out, the logistics are love, too.
To make them feel my love
And miraculously, the one thing my kids want the most from me isn’t my organizational skills or seeing me do everything exactly right. It’s me. They just want me, and they will get me five hundred ways today, in reminders, in hugs, in discipline, in a look and a smile. They might hear the logistics, but what they feel is how I love.
And I’m left with only one question that transcends the exhausting details: How much love will they feel from me today?
Jesus, give me perspective today. Help me zoom out. Infuse the mundane with your love so it all comes to life in beautiful living color.