Sunday, July 27, 2008

I want to remember...

Ever since I heard Elder M. Russel Ballard's talk on motherhood in the last conference, a quote he gave has been haunting me:

"Author Anna Quindlen reminds us not to rush past the fleeting moments. She said: “The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. . . . I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less”(Loud and Clear [2004], 10–11)."

I was picking Cameron up from camp a couple of weeks ago and saw a baby a week old there. She was so teeny tiny and I thought surely she had to have been smaller than Mason ever was. When the mother told me that she was almost 8 pounds I think I must've looked stunned. I can't remember him being that little and that was just three and a half months ago! How quickly the time does fly and I find myself in the same rut that Anna Quindlen found herself in. I am always looking to the next thing, and how I can accomplish it with the least amount of whining and in the shortest amount of time. With Mason being our last baby, it panics me beyond belief that I will not remember what he smells and feels and sounds like. As much as we may try to stop time by videotaping and photographing little moments, we will never be in that moment again. I want to remember exactly how it feels to have this tiny lump of warm flesh lay heavily slumbering on my chest. I want to be able to look into his trusting deep eyes forever and remember how his gaze makes me melt. I want to keep smelling that "clean baby" smell that comes after a warm bath and just makes you want to hold them closer. I find myself constantly thinking about how much easier life will be when the kids are "x" years old, when there are no more diapers, no more strollers, no more having to worry about them wandering off at the park. But in the back of my mind I know that those days will come all to quickly and I will want to rewind life to the here and now. Oh how I wish I could hit the pause button and just stay where I am- minus some of those extra responsibilities that seem to get in the way. My life seems so perfect right now and everything that matters the most in life is right at my fingertips. I have the loving husband that tries to put my needs before his own and three adorable, healthy, exuberant children that introduce me to new things each day and fill my life with a joy I never knew existed. I feel so incredibly lucky to have everything I ever wanted, but didn't realize I wanted until I had it. Is it perfect? No, of course there are things that I wish I could change, but I think it is perfect for me and I know there is Someone much wiser than I that has put this all into motion and is calling the shots.

Several years ago I got some parenting advice from a friend that has no children that has echoed in my ears time and time again. Even though she didn't have kids of her own, her words were just what I needed to hear. She said that we ought to say yes to our kids as much as we can. I know it sounds so simple, but in execution it is a bit more difficult. As I have implemented this philosophy into our life, I have noticed that I am the one that most often benefits from it. "One more book, Mommy," turns into extra snuggle time with my kids, "Can we go for a walk?" ends up giving us time to talk about whatever is most important in their little minds. It seems like these requests usually come when I have a million other things to do and telling them to just go play or putting a movie on seems like the easiest solution. But when I do say yes, I am treated to those memory making moments that help shape both our lives.

So I will let the boys play for five more minutes in the bathtub even if it means we will be late for preschool and I will join right in with bubbles on my nose and water all over the floor, because I know that these are the times to savor. I hope I can spend more time just enjoying and relishing being a mom with young kids so that I can say in the future that I got the maximum out of every day. I know I will still want to be sent back in time, but at least I will have less regrets and might actually be able to remember more.

And on that note I'm off to snuggle that baby of mine and smell and touch and listen to him. And I will go and sit on the edge of my children's beds and watch them sleeping so peacefully, dreaming of becoming whatever their minds imagine. I will be the best mom I know how to be and make that quality time a top priority, so that we can both get the most out of them growing up. I will "treasure the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less."

10 comments:

Eric and Alex said...

I've been thinking about this exact same thing all summer, and I love that quote from conference. I was always thinking about the next thing with Emma, b/c she was my first, and was so anxious to see what happens next. I've realized how important it is to just "be there" with your kids and soak up all the little moments (b/c they will stick to your memory), you are so right. And Majorie Pay Hinckley has a great quote from a book about saying "yes" whenever you possibly can. I've tried it with Emma, and makes our time together so much more enjoyable. Thanks for such a nice post Erika. :)

Kristine said...

I agree! I find myself getting frustrated with my 2 and after thinking it was dumb and just relax and go with it. Silly to waste time being stressed with kids who don't know the concept, ya know.

FYI - Gavin and Cole have the same issue, that boy can pee in the potty like a champ but #2's...Spiderman, Shreck and Diego are getting really tired of being pooped on....

Monica said...

Okay I will stop crying now. I must have needed to hear that cause I'm all misty eyed now!

Shelese said...

Boy did I need that post! Thanks for your great advice and example. I just loved your thoughts and feelings here, thanks for sharing them.

Jean Allen said...

First, I think you are a tremendous mother and woman! Anna Quindlan's quote made me wistful for experiences some 20 years ago. But I can't go back, as we all know. However, I can tell you that there are many new moments to treasure as your boys grow up; things just as special as "that baby smell," and watching as they go off to school for the first time; the feeling of immense gratitude when your child independently makes a decision that is based on what he knows to be true. Nothing campares to that! Or when they write you a letter telling you how much they appreciated everything you have done for them and that they don't know what they would have done without you! Then you have a glimpse that all of the thousands of sacrifices that you have made for them over the years were more than worth it. Life is so blessed!

Anrad said...

I'm all teary-eyed and emotional too. What a great post. I love that quote and it has been on my mind for quite a while too. I'm starting to think that maybe my trips aren't working out because I need to spend more time with my kids now that our schedule has slowed down some. We can now do some things that they have been wanting to do. I'm holding on to every bit of "baby" from Luka that I can. It's so great and hard at the same time to see your kids growing. You're such a wonderful mom! I know your boys realize some day how lucky they are!

Heather said...

great writing Erika. So True. And I love Jean's comments. I am waiting for a letter of "thanks."

Kristen said...

Wow. Thanks Erika. You've got me all teary eyed. I need to do that too.

Jean Allen said...

BTW, phenomenal photo of your boys!

Goose said...

You are such an amazing Mom Erika. Your kids are truly blessed to have you. I totally feel like I can relate to what you just said. To savor every second, no matter what. You are amazing.