My mothering journey is unique in that I have had a chance for some semblance of a “do-over” or what might be better described as a, “try, try again!” When the youngest of our four eldest children turned seven-and-a-half, we had the first of what became our final three. As a result, I’ve benefited from gaining perspective as a mom who pretty much raised two separate sets of kids.
One of the things I’ve noticed between then and now have been the different outlets that helped to provide me with some much needed respite. Unfortunately, for a long time I sought out distractions that often became a form of escape…
A mom’s job is demanding at the best of times and long, sometimes grueling, homeschooling days added to the overwelming desire to just. get. away… for a while, even if it was only mentally. While there is certainly nothing wrong with taking a break it can become a problem if it becomes where your heart and mind are mainly focused.
During my busy days I occasionally treated myself to an glance at a woman’s magazine or perhaps extended a nursing session with a sleepy baby longer than it really needed to be so I could just read a few more pages of my book. But it was frustrating to be interrupted over and over so I turned to the phone; chatting with my friends became a big part of my life and a major social outlet for me.
Talking to my friends frequently felt like a lifeline to a woman overwhelmed with potty training, sibling rivalry, lessons, and endless meal preparation. It provided me with a way to distract myself from the many tasks at hand and helped to make the days go faster. I ended up spending inordinate amounts of time connected to the phone while shushing the little ones who invariably clamored for my attention.
Looking back, I realize that repeatedly telling your kids to be quiet or to go away so I could continue visiting my friends when I should have been focused on them wasn’t a great way to be invested in the gift I had been given… time to be fully present with my children. Instead, I relied on friends for emotional support and comfort.
The second half of my allotted mothering journey has had many of the same challenges, and for a while during the overlapping years when I was balancing the many needs of teenagers, including late night talks (like eight or nine o’clock!) with the exhaustion that is chronic while pregnant or nursing a baby- it seemed insurmountable.
But one of the advantages of being an older mom with previous child rearing under her belt is that I now know that time does, indeed, go quickly. In many ways I’ve felt more enjoyment in being present with my youngest three and I’ve often wished that I could go back in time to experience my first four children’s younger days with more grace.
Now-a-days, the degree of separation between our homes and our culture through the media has become almost imperceptible. IPods, smartphones, tablets, and laptops have made it almost impossible not to access what’s currently streaming through the airway or internet at any given time. It takes focused attention to determine how one’s life is going to be lived… in the here and now, or elsewhere.
The choices that parents have to make regarding how much to allow their children exposure to is only part of the problem… the real question as followers of Christ is, how much entertainment does He want any of us to indulge ourselves in, good quality or not?
I’ve seen and experienced the seductive lure of disappearing into social media and other online attractions. Like most things this world offers, it’s a tool that can be used to benefit or harm.
The problem for me has to do with how I’m training my mind. Do I want my default thought processes to be constantly oriented towards being occupied by outside influences? Am I allowing my mind to rest, reflect, and sometimes just… drift? Or am I driven and compelled to escape my thoughts because of unhappiness, discontent, or even boredom?
I have to wonder how much I’ve missed, over the years, by allowing myself to run towards distraction instead of running to Jesus. It is my fervent prayer that the Holy Spirit will continue to speak to my heart about paying attention to Him with all of my mind… as my first fruits, not my leftovers.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Meet Wendy Our Mentor Mom
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