Filling This Season With Rose-Colored Memories

Some of the most important relationships I’ve formed as a young mom are with women who have children around my own age. My mom, my aunts, mentor moms at MOPS, and other women I’ve met along the way who have helped with advice, perspective, and a listening ear.

IMG_8445One thing I’ve heard from them all is that, while the little years are hard, they never regretted staying home for that season. It’s fast and before you know it, the kids are in school and need you in different, less time-consuming ways. (I typed this last sentence at the same time Elle climbed into my lap. Time-consuming, indeed…)

I know that, by the time I’m a grandma, I’ll look back nostalgically. Maybe these women are looking at life through rose-colored glasses. But I kind of want that. I want to look back at these years with fondness, letting the hard moments fade. I want to look back and know that this was a good choice for our family.

I’ve been thinking about this perspective lately. I feel like it can apply to so many areas and life decisions. What will we look back on without regret? What choices will we make that, when we’re looking back through shiny memory, we’ll smile fondly? I suppose this is like successful businessmen looking back and never regretting saying no to a client and yes to their family, even if it felt like a big decision at the moment.

I just dropped off Elle’s preschool registration for next year. She’ll only be gone two mornings a week but that glimpse into future freedom has me reflecting on how I spend my time. What am I doing with those “free” moments? How will I make choices now that will help me look back on this season without regret, with fond, rose-colored memories?

What about you? What are choices you made (or are making) that will define how you look back on life?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “regret.”

One Small Change

At the beginning of the year, I signed Bea up for Guppy swim lessons. Geared to 3-5 year olds, the goal by the end is to bob under water, float for 3 seconds without support, and feel confident in the water. I started her in January with lofty goals – we had enough time to repeat a level here or there but by summertime, she’d be in her second round of Minnow, perfecting her strokes and ready for this summer.

IMG_9618Last week was the last day of our third round of Guppy. Bea was so emotionally exhausted that she fell asleep in the bathtub after class. (Perhaps the most disconcerting experience I’ve had as a parent so far…)

My new goal for this summer? To regain a love of the pool and swimming. I don’t think it was really lost – we just spent a week in Moab where Bea used her noodle to kick all over the pool – but I want to refocus my own expectations. She’s three. We will always have adults around to watch her. She is water safe enough that I’m watchful but not worried. We’ll play this summer and we’ll keep trying next year.

I feel like if I have learned nothing else from motherhood, holding my expectations loosely is a recurring theme. My ideals and expectations are still high. I still strive to be as intentional as possible with our decisions. But, I’m learning that the specifics are often not how I originally envisioned.

The journey is ever-changing, ever-shifting and I’m finding that the scenery I hadn’t expected is often more beautiful. Or at least makes for a better story when perspective is gained and situations become funnier with retelling.

It’s not an easy small change that I’m learning to make. In fact, it goes against my view of an ordered, “happy” life. But, it’s a small change that makes me a better wife, a better mom, and a happier person all around.

And while small changes are often more attainable than lofty goals, they are also harder to stay consistent with. Sometimes small changes are easily reverted back because they are small and seemingly insignificant. I guess that’s the misnomer of small, easy changes. They are small and most likely easier than a major life-shift, but they still take intention, discipline and a willingness to work toward the big picture.

So even though my small change is simply having fun in the pool this summer, I hope I catch glimpses of something bigger – that I see life and parenting as less linear and more looping, circular, spiraling, spinning, and twirling. I hope that instead of viewing this as one step forward, two steps back I view it more as a dance.

We may not be able to easily see the lines clearly but the end product is something remarkable.

What’s one small change you would like to make this summer? How do you see life – in a line or like a dance?

Linked up with Alexandra Kuykendall as she asks us to consider the power of the small as we learn to love our actual lives. Head over to her place for more stories!

Dare

“Be daring, be different, be impractical; be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary. Routines have their purposes but the merely routine is the hidden enemy of high art.” Cecil Beaton

Yesterday at MOPS, we were talking about living a “Wow Life” – finding cures, solving world problems, being bigger than the ordinary. The reality is that our days can be mundane – making breakfast, reading Quick as a Cricket again, watching Daniel Tiger, shoving cleaning, reading, and rest into nap time.

I think it can be easy to categorize the mundane as a stay at home mom problem, but really, I fought the mundane long before Bea entered the picture. As a teacher, I got bogged down in just teaching second grade, in just teaching in the United States, in just… It can be so easy and comfortable to fall into a complacent routine. And, as Beaton notes, routines have their place.

What I’m grappling with these days is the merely routine. How do I create routines that give comfort and expectation without complacency? How do I embrace the known while continually keeping an eye on the unknown? How do I teach Bea to go out on fantastic adventures, knowing that home will be a safe constant?

I want to live a daring life, but I am gradually redefining what daring means in this stage. For some, daring means packing up, moving away, living grand adventures. For others, daring means moving across town. For me, daring means finding the confidence to embrace this phase in life – however mundane it looks from the outside, knowing that I am part of something greater, something far more daring than I can see today.

How do you embrace the daring adventure in your life?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing.

Paint

I have not been able to bring myself to let Bea paint in our house. She loves the idea of paint – whenever she sees it on one of her little shows, she asks to paint right away. Once, we met friends at a play zone that had a painting and crafts room. I thought I’d be able to give up control, since I would not be the one cleaning up.

I spent the entire 8 minutes that Bea painted hovering with a wet paper towel, trying to intercept spills. She still came home covered in green poster paint. And, miraculously, it all came out in the wash. That experience hasn’t given me confidence to try it at home yet…

Bea's only painting experience
Bea’s only painting experience

The thing is: I’m not a very clean housekeeper. Our floors are clearly those of a toddler-and-dog house; Our furniture always has a layer of dust; Our bathroom mirrors are smudged. I don’t know why painting gets me so nervous.

I feel like motherhood is in a phase of messy. Embrace your mess! Don’t worry about the laundry! Mothering is more important than housekeeping! I fully agree with all of those sentiments and try to keep my interactions and playtime with Bea as my number one priority, before the chores.

But…. They are always at the back of my mind and I’m always thinking, One day, my house will be clean. In this season of messiness and mud and sand, I’m learning to embrace the actuality of the dirt involved in these moments. And, maybe one day, I’ll even embrace some paint.

Linked with Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write for five minutes without editing.

4/29/14 UPDATE: I learned to outsource.

Dancing

“Let me teach you how to dance,

Let me lead you to the floor,

Simply place your hand in mine,

and then think of nothing more…”

Richard Maltby, Jr.

When I first saw this scene in the film, “Miss Potter,” I got teary-eyed. The simple scene was beautiful and touching. Now, watching Frank dance with our own Beatrix, singing to her, both faces lit up, just being together brings a new beauty to this song. Moving from one sung as a courting tune to one singing as a father to his daughter. I love watching Frank teach Bea so many things – how to dance, explore, live fearlessly. And how Bea looks up to Frank, full of trust and delight, learning from her dad. It’s amazing to think how this dance will change as the years pass, but I hope the core will remain: Bea fearlessly in her dad’s arms.

Is there a song that defines a moment in your life?