Slowing Down for the Moments that Matter

“As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer.”

Psalm 103:15-16

Every day, multiple times each day, I have to force myself to slow down. Read Scripture to my sons before washing the dishes, talk to my husband before rushing to clean up after supper, take the boys outside and do the laundry later, and so on. I’m not saying we can or should neglect our responsibilities, but I am saying that babies don’t keep. These moments with our children are gone in a flash. This is a reminder to slow down for the moments that truly matter.

I have two boys under the age of two. I’ve found that this is a bit of a strange season of life. They keep me so busy that I often forget to take a drink or pause for a deep breath. At the same time daily, sometimes the monotonous tasks leave me feeling like the day is incredibly slow.

A brief moment to ponder came to me a few days ago. I asked myself how my days could simultaneously feel packed full and so slow? Here’s what I mean by this…

On one hand, a day in our farmhouse contains no shortage of demands: a toddler to feed (for what seems like 20 times a day), a newborn to nurse every few hours, diapers to change, naps to prepare for, and so on. Those are just a few chores on my mental ‘to-do’ list…not to mention dishes, laundry, cleaning, tidying, finances, marriage, friendships, my relationship with God, or garden chores. It all keeps me thoroughly busy.

On the other hand, my boys are at an age when they need so much aid from me, as there are very, very few things they can do for themselves. My attention is constantly shifting from what one or the other needs in the present moment, what they’ll require in the future, and what I can do for them now in order to mold them for eternity. I do a lot of the same things over…and over…and over again throughout the day. This repetitious tasks often leave me wondering how it can only be 10 in the morning. Surely it’s nap time by now? Surely I’ve done enough for one day? How long can this day be?

This strange relationship of busyness and monotony can lead me right into the snare of wishing away the present moments I am in. I’ve been known to say things like, “I can’t wait till Elliot can dress himself”, “It’ll be so nice when Theo sleeps all night”, “I’m so ready to be done with diapers”, “I don’t enjoy the rebellious toddler phase”, and so on.

While all of those statements are true and not necessarily evil, my heart behind them must be kept in check. I do not want to spend these precious days with my little sons wishing that they were over and done with. For one day they will be exactly that, over and done with. And that is a bitter-sweet thought to ponder.

Honestly, I am terrified to think that one day I’ll look back and see that my house was spotless, laundry never piled up, the garden was always weed-free, chores were promptly completed, but realize that I didn’t slow down enough to actually enjoy living.

Once again, I am not stating that the chores of a homemaker and mother are so unimportant that they can be neglected in the name of fun day-in and day-out. There is a time and place for good, old-fashioned elbow grease, and a ‘let’s get this done’ mindset. But I, personally, can’t go there every day because I will not easily snap out of it. I’m so much better at hard work and knocking out a to-do list than I am slowing down to do puzzles with Elliot or rock Theo for a nap.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Early one Tuesday morning, my boys and I were out in the garden. I had everything under control so that we could spend a good portion of the morning getting caught up on garden chores. Everyone was fed, diapers changed, snacks packed, water bottles available, and Theo asleep in the stroller. I was ready to get to work before the summer heat set in for the day. As I frantically set about my tasks (because you never know how long a two month old will sleep), I heard my Elliot laughing and running near me. I looked up to see that he was gently chasing two kittens in and out of tomato plant rows. His hands full of blackberries, his red hair wild from the wind, and the most genuine, muddy grin lighting up his face. The scene made my heart joyful and I felt the Lord saying, “Slow down. This matters more than anything else you can accomplish today.”

How sad it makes me to think that I nearly missed that moment all for the sake of tying loose tomato branches to their wires. And then I think about how many other precious memories I’ve missed on the days when I don’t slow down and enjoy my people.

I thank the Lord for this gentle reminder that He gave me. I need it every single day…multiple times per day.

I want to look back 20 years from now and remember tickle fights, exhausted 2 a.m. snuggles, wide mouth toddler kisses, joyful giggles, lots of reading, walks in the woods, first words, all the muddy fingers, toes, and grins, intentional lessons given, Jesus exemplified, and love liberally given out.

The chores can wait a bit longer. Moments matter more. My family matters most.

I just needed to get these thoughts out of my heart and head…I hope someone finds them to be encouraging.

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