Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Irretrievable moments....

Awhile back, I won the book "Mom, You Make a Difference!" from one of my favorite bloggers, Jen at The Toy Box Years, during a giveaway. The book is basically comprised of little stories written by experienced moms to remind other moms that they do indeed make a difference in their children's lives. It was put together and edited by Elisa Morgan for MOPS International.

When I got the book I knew it would come in handy. I decided to tuck the book away in a special place, to be taken out and read during those moments where I feel like my head is going to explode. You know, like when I have to break up yet another silly fight between the kids or after having stepped on a tiny lego piece randomly sitting in the middle of the floor....again.

During those moments, I excuse myself from the room, grab my book and sit myself on the floor of the laundry room (or bathroom, whichever is the quickest escape) and I read a couple of those stories, written by some very wise mothers. Each story makes a good point to savor every moment as a cherished one and to know that everything you do as a mother is valuable, even the little things like doing laundry or helping the kids get dressed and brush their teeth.

On one particular day, I was trying to get some housework done. There wasn't one spot on the floor which wasn't covered in toys, scraps of paper carelessly thrown on the ground and clothes which were taken off but never quite reached the laundry room. The kids kept interrupting me....Cole wanted me to play the Monster Truck Wii game with him, Bella wanted me to help her complete a puzzle, and Garrett and Landon were nagging me about going to the park.

I completely lost it and said, "I have to get some things done around here. I was NOT put on this earth to be your sole source of entertainment. Believe it or not, I have other things I have to do, besides play with you all 10 hours a day!" They all just stared at me with hurt in their eyes....their eager little spirits had been broken. I was plagued with guilt and all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and cry.

After excusing myself from the room, I sat on the floor of the bathroom with my book in hand, randomly thumbing through it. Then I stumbled upon an an entry called, "Choosing what matters most", written by Carol Kuykendall and, for some reason, it called out to me. It's funny to me that sometimes I can't see God working in my life but surely He is because this day was the day I was meant to read this particular story.

In brief, the message in this entry is how to make the best choices about what to do when faced with many options. Like, should I just let the housework go and play with the kids, even though it killed me to see the house so disorganized and messy? Could I take 10 minutes out of my cleaning to play the Wii game with Cole or help Bella with her puzzle? Sure, I could....but then the stuff I desperately needed to get done would still be waiting to be completed. It exhausted me to think about it. How do I make the right choice?

Then I got to the part she where mentions that an older, wiser person once told her, "Make the most of life's irretrievable moments". You know, those moments which you may never get another opportunity to experience. The author explains that ever since then, that statement helped her to make choices about what mattered the most.

She writes, "First, think about the meaning of 'irretrievable moments". It means the moments that might not come around again - the ones that may happen only once. Mothering is filled with moments that keep coming back. If you miss one of them, don't worry, because it will come around again tomorrow. So you won't really miss it. Like unloading the dishwasher or sorting laundry. But some may happen only once. Like taking advantage of the best spring day, like helping a friend in need, like going on a field trip (with your child's class). Those are the ones not to miss. Those are the ones to choose. Because those probably matter most".

I believe that was the message that God wanted me to hear right then. I needed to make a good choice...one that would matter, years from now, when my children looked back on this particular day.

After putting the book away, I told Cole I would play one Monster Truck game with him on the Wii and then we would go to the park, where Bella and I could sit at one of the tables and finish her puzzle. As I packed snacks into the diaper bag, I tried to focus on their happy smiles instead of the house which was begging to be cleaned.

In the end, I made the right choice. How do I know that?

Well, during the Wii game, Cole beat me after 5 laps during a very difficult race , the first time this had ever happened. At the park, Landon finally learned how to slide down the pole from the climbing structure and Bella was able to swing across the entire rack of monkey bars without needing me to hold her up. She and I also completed her puzzle, which was just as challenging to me as it was to her! Nothing new happened for Garrett but he enjoyed rolling himself down the hill of grass at the park, over and over again, giggling with joy.

Those were all irretrievable moments. Had I chosen to stay home and continue cleaning, I surely would've missed out and so would've my children.

Upon returning home, the floor was still covered in toys, dust and food wrappers. The laundry still sat in the baskets, completely disorganized. The books were still messily displayed all over the floor instead of stacked neatly on the bookshelves.

I'd have the ability to get to those chores the next day or perhaps the day after that. But I would never be able to get back the precious, meaningful moments of what had occurred within the last couple hours of our day.

Now, just like the author who wrote that important message, when faced with a decision, I ask myself which one of those options could potentially be an irretrievable moment. Awhile back, I wrote a post on how to find that balance in motherhood....and I think I finally figured it out.

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43 comments:

Buckeroomama said...

Oh, Helene --I so needed this right now. Thanks for sharing this.

Karen & Gerard Zemek said...

That is a great way to decide what is more important. Another little test or principle I use is that living things trump over inanimate objects--always! I really need to apply that more when my husband is around.

Neat to see how God gave you the message you needed to hear! He is at work all the time, we just need to look for Him.

Visiting from SITS.

Just Playin' said...

Someone once said to me, "People are more important than things." It has really stuck with me over the years and years and years. Another one, "If you have to choose between things and an experience, choose the experience." Works for me.

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

This is a great message. And so true.

Amy said...

This is so true sometimes we just have to stop and get to that stuff later..

Veronica Lee said...

So true!! Thanks for sharing.

Brooke said...

this is why i think i'm not cut out for motherhood. my nerves can't stand a dirty house! i'd probably raise my kids to think that a clean house is love - who needs kisses and hugs? :P

yonca said...

So true! My son sometimes asks me'what is the most important for you, me or the house?'

Eva Gallant said...

I remember when my kids were little, one day my Mom called me and asked, "What are you doing today/" I answeree that I wazs on my way outside to help the boys build a treehouse. She said, "This would be a nice day to wash your windows." I replied, "Mom, when the boys are grown up, what do you think they'll remember: that we built a tree house, or that the windows were dirty?" Nuff said.

Eva Gallant said...

I remember when my kids were little, one day my Mom called me and asked, "What are you doing today/" I answeree that I wazs on my way outside to help the boys build a treehouse. She said, "This would be a nice day to wash your windows." I replied, "Mom, when the boys are grown up, what do you think they'll remember: that we built a tree house, or that the windows were dirty?" Nuff said.

Kaleena said...

I really needed to learn this lesson. I've been so caught up with organizing the house that i've been disappointing the kids alot these last few days. Thanks for the reminder to put them first:) Smiles to you my friend:)

Morgan said...

It sounds like you made a good choice on your time.

I'm impressed that your son beat you on the monster truck game! Kids sure figure out video games quickly, huh?

BigSis said...

Love it - and it's so appropriate this time of year!

Working Mommy said...

What a great little story!! You know, another really great book is the Chicken Soup for mothers...it has some GREAT stories in it!

~WM

The Mother said...

This is exactly why my house is always a disaster zone.

Twins Squared said...

Great post! I think it kind of goes back to balance. We hear that so much but it's really true. If you played with your kids all the time and you neglected the house, that's not being a good mom because there are responsibilities there that need to get done, for the sake of your entire family. By the same token, if you never take time for your kids, you are missing out on the true joys and blessings of motherhood and your kids are missing out tremendously. One day my house will look better and our meals will be better but for now we just have to live with it out of sorts, as I'm sure most moms do. Thanks for sharing!

MamaOtwins+1 said...

What a great post - and a great reminder to all of us to make the right decision and find the balance in our lives.

I'm also glad I'm not the only one who reads in the bathroom!

MamaHen Em said...

I love, love, love this post. Just the reminder that I needed today. My chickies are begging for me to do "something fun" with them today and I feel like I still have so much to get done before bible study tonight and swimming lessons and whatever else is going on. As much as I try to be intentional about how we spend our days together, it is such a struggle for me to leave the house alone and let it be messy. Thank you for writing this TODAY :) Have a great day!

Kristin @ Meanbean said...

wow....what a timely reminder for me! I often don't weigh the choices before making my choice...the last thing I want to do is miss out on kiddo's irretreivable moments!! thank you for this post :)

THeta Mom said...

"I needed to make a choice--one that would matter even years from now." AMEN to that!!!

Carly said...

Thank you for this lovely reminder that the laundry can wait,but the baby's can't

Corrie Howe said...

Great Post. I sent it out to the social networks for others to find. Thanks for reminding us about what's important at the end of a life.

Angela said...

Thanks for sharing this today! I've been struggling with my attitude to "be there" for my older ones when I'm so tired. This helps put things into perspective! Thanks again!

Buckles Family said...

Wow, this was a perfect message for me today! Thank you for sharing that story, because I feel like I often get caught up in things around the house and miss out on those special little moments with my girls.

Menopausal New Mom said...

Helene, I loved this post today. I did one a while back about the best advice I had received from a good friend of mine.

I was freaking out, I couldn't keep the house in the neat-as-a-pin state I had been used to before my daughter was born. I was complaining to my best friend who has three kids. Her words changed my life:

"When my kids grow up and look back at their childhood, I want them to remember the things we did and the fun we had, not how clean I kept the house"

It totally changed my perspective. Now I walk over the toys, get into an unmade bed at the end of the day and just smile at all the things I was able to do with my daughter that day. The housework can wait.

Long-winded post, sorry but such an important message!

shortmama said...

Such a great reminder! I struggle with the same thing...wanting to take advantage of a few free minutes so clean up or take care of projects and not missing time with my kids.

Molly said...

Great reminder. As a mom I know that I need to take time to fully enjoy my kids, in the middle of the day to day crud. But it's so easy to forget when you have som much going on. Great post, I thought I was following you, but I am now!

kys said...

So true. And when I ignore the kids to clean, the house is messed up within an hour anyway.

2 Toddlers and Me said...

Great post and wonderful timing. I have been so busy trying to do things to achieve an end result for my children, that I haven't had much time to actually do things with my children. Time for some re-scheduling. I don't want to miss those irretrivable moments.

Heather said...

So true. Sometimes, letting the house go can be so distressing, and then it turns out so rewarding. I love the pix of the kids on the left sidebar. They are all growing so fast and are adorable!

Debbie said...

I'm so happy for you! It sounds like you have figured out the secret. Thanks for sharing it with all of us.

Erin said...

very true and very well put! I wish I could do the right thing more often.

Mighty M said...

What an enjoyable post - This sounds like a wonderful book!

Alicia said...

Yes..very wise advice!! It's so easy to dismiss our children and not realize how much we have missed out on.

blueviolet said...

I love that term "irretrievable moments." Perfection!

I love the choice you made!

Mrsbear said...

This is one of those reminders I need to revisit periodically. It's easy to forget how irretrievable these moments are. Even when I'm on top of the housework, I am never on top of the housework. It's worth it to sacrifice the never-really-clean-house for a few moments of play with them. Although if it was up to my kids, they'd be using me all day long purely for entertainment. We'd never eat. Again, balance is key. Great post.

GAMZu said...

I read a poem once that touched me. Very short and to the point:

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
For children grow old, we've learned to our sorrow
So settle down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

Jenny said...

This is a great post, Helene. So many times I have continued doing the laundry, dishes, etc. instead of playing or coloring, etc.

I am going to remember this quote from the book about "irretrieveable moments"!

KK said...

Sounds like a great book!

When did I become my Mom said...

Thank you for sharing this.


I struggle and struggle with this.

Oh and on a totally unrelated note, I tagged you here.

Dianna@KennedyAdventures said...

I was having a 'mired in self pity' week .... thank you!

Amy W said...

Excellent! I have a couple of MOPS books too, and they are all good! And I will be thinking about my "irretrievable moments" now! I'm a task-oriented mama too much of the time!!

The Lane Family said...

You always know the right post for the right time. I often forget what really matters and that if my house is not in perfect order it is not the end of the world.

My kids are and will continue to grow so fast and be gone before I know it and then I will wonder why I cared so much about the smears on the window or the floor being messy.

My mother in law told me that is what is so wonderful about being a grandma...you know that time passes so very quickly and that what really matters is the time you spend with your kids!!

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr



 
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