Monday, June 20, 2011

Don't miss the Moments

Milestones - written into health record books or carefully recorded in a journal designed for that specific purpose of recording significant events in the life of a child. First smiles, first tooth, first steps, first words. They are important and as a mother of seven children I'm far less anxious about time frames these days. I have to say I was either far too excited or far too busy to stop and record the actual dates for each and every milestone of each and every child. They all crawled and I knew that once mobile I would be busier than ever chasing them around. I know the children who walked before one and those who walked after one. They all talked and don't I know it and 'dad' was their first word except for my seventh born who said 'mum' first at six months of age but soon added dad (pronounced with great excitement I have to say!) and car to his vocabulary - he's 18 months old now and starting to talk in sentences. Wow! I'm impressed but not surprised, there are chatterboxes all around him.

I do sometimes wonder if all those milestones recorded in keepsake books are actual eye witness accounts. Sadly, many may be secondhand information passed on by a relative, friend or childcare worker in a daycare centre. I know what it is like to be in that place. I returned to full time work outside of the home when my first born was just 7 months old and did not give up work until he was two. I missed out on so many of those firsts - my husband who was caring for our son at home let me know at the end of each day just what our boy was achieving but it was not just the milestones I was upset at missing - I've realized now that it was the moments. It is the moments that matter.

Life they say is measured in moments. Songwriters write songs about them and the memorable ones such as 'From this Moment' by Shania Twain become anthems for weddings. You may not recall every detail of your wedding day but you will most likely remember moments - the moment when you first walked into the church, the moment when that ring was slipped onto your finger. You were present - you had to be of course and if you were not too nervous you were trying to smile and breathe and just take in every moment of that very special day in your life. As I sat next to my husband in the church and listened to our wedding song 'Truly' being sung by a guy at our Baptist church who sang just like Lionel Ritchie, it was one of those 'forever moments'. I wanted it to last forever but it didn't.

Another significant moment in the life of a couple is the birth of a child and for this you also had to be present - even if you were under anaesthesia for the birth you had to be there! You are probably happy to forget the painful moments leading up to the birth but that moment when your child is placed into your arms for the very first time and you look into his or her eyes and gently touch their sweet little cheek and admire those fingers all curled up. It's hard to describe - a moment in time of absolute, wonderful, incredible exhilaration, sheer delight and joy. I'm certain these are the same emotions experienced by adoptive parents too, when the child they may have already seen in photographs or met previously is placed into their arms or embrace and they realize - he/she is ours. That moment when we we meet our child for the very first time is so special - we will never forget this occasion, no matter what.

So many more moments are to follow - the first one I usually recall is the day I come home from the hospital. I've had two home births which were very special experiences but I also remember with fondness the moment I stepped through the door of our home after giving birth in hospital. It felt warm, so right, wonderful and as we all often say on returning to our place of abode after time away 'It's good to be home.' Home is a sweet place indeed and so many of the memories we recall are associated with home and family.

So why would we want to miss out on the moments in the life of our children? I've asked myself this question time and time again, particularly over the past 18 months. You see my 7th born son looks so much like his older brother who will turn 19 next month. There's a certain look in his eyes which transports me back to the early 1990's especially when he wears an outfit that his brother also wore as a baby. A sense of deja vu at times and at others, a deep sense of regret because I missed out on so many moments by making the choice to work outside of the home. How many smiles did I miss? How many stories or simple interactions between a mother and her baby son?

Oh yes, you could blame the economy and at the time we did - when we bought our first home, interest rates were over 15 per cent. We thought we could not survive on my husband's wage as a mechanic and the offer of a senior position for me in a desirable seaside city was seized upon. There were other reasons too - position and status. I had totally undervalued motherhood but deep down was a nagging sense of guilt and I felt it acutely when we traveled to the interview - our baby's first plane trip would be for the purpose of leading his mummy away from the home and sacrificing her God given calling. I don't remember all the details of the 2 hour interview but I do recall the moment I fed my 3 month old baby son and handed him over to my husband, smoothed down my clothes, put on my professional airs and graces and walked into the room where a panel of senior medical staff were waiting for me. I can remember thinking 'I hope I don't hear him crying and leak breast milk during this interview- that would not be a good look.' It's a moment I don't want to remember but I do because it happened and the moments I want to remember of a mother enjoying her first child at a very precious time of life were few and far between. Yes, I was there each evening and on weekends but I was often too tired and too stressed to even stop and think about just enjoying the moments. Those evenings were a blur and Monday morning and another working week would arrive too soon. I thought I would juggle it all and achieve the perfect life/work balance. Being organized was the key I thought - at home and at work. If I'm organized all will run smooth I told myself but I had just forgotten that babies don't always follow agendas and I had not for a moment given thought to how missing out on the moments would affect me. You cannot schedule moments or make them happen again for your benefit.

By swapping roles we had placed unnecessary burdens upon each other. My husband was not out of work. There were positions in his field available but we had made a decision based on our own perceptions of the economic climate. Our discussions as a couple often started with the question 'How are we going to afford to.....?' We had not yet learned to trust God - we were doing the opposite of what God's word exhorts and were leaning on our own understanding. I didn't fully understand what it means for a man to be a provider and how it affects a man when his wife steps into that role. I also felt cheated of my homemaking moments. I would walk through the door and long to smell the aroma of freshly baked bread. I didn't expect my husband to bake bread or arrange flowers, he was doing a fantastic job looking after our son and I didn't want to ask too much of him but as the months went by I realized our home did lack a woman's touch - my homemaker's signature so to speak but more importantly, our son as much as he was loving being with his dad, was missing out on so many mothering moments - those nurturing moments because I was away for most of the day.

His second plane trip, this time an international flight to England. On our return to NZ from this trip for my sister's wedding I would be staying home. No wonder I was happy! This photo was taken in Japan. I still remember how much he loved that souvenir plane set!

I am glad to report that I came to my senses. When I discovered I was pregnant with my second child I made the decision not to take up the offer of maternity leave. I was leaving for good and returning to the place I knew where God had called me to be - at home to be what He had called me to be - a wife and a mother with no extra titles. It wasn't easy - there was a period when our income was nil until my husband found work. We had no choice but to trust God and He brought us through and provided for us and has continued to show us that He is faithful to His promises. I can testify to the truth of 'where God guides He provides'. Through His grace He was going to grant me many more moments of motherhood. Many more children to raise and what's more He would call me to educate them all at home. He was giving me even more moments to enjoy because they were here at home with me and not away for hours each week day.

That is for me one of the greatest joys of this life - I have my children around me and I share in so many of their moments. The moment that reading just 'clicks' for them. The 'wow he gets it moment'. The chocolate cake smeared face moments. The race to the door to meet dad moments. The laugh yourself silly moments when keeping a straight face is near nigh impossible! The 'caught in the act' moments. The moments of quiet observation of a child's wonder and fascination. Too many moments to list but all too precious to miss. I want to be there for all of them, to remember many of them them and hold onto them but because they are moments they cannot be relived.

Next time Part 2 of 'Don't Miss the Moments' - 'The Distracted Mother' and how preoccupation can steal your moments.


Pam said...

Great observations. I agree whole heartedly. There is truly nothing better than those moments with our children. I went through a type of mourning when they left home. I never knew I would feel like that... I still feel like that somewhat. I long for them to be close by, and treasure those moments when I can visit them. or they us. They are our treasures.. our rewards aren't they.

Love all your pictures and some of the new ones on the side bar.
Much Love,

Renata said...

Hi Ann
What a fantastic post - my story mirrors your in some ways. I did return to work after a year of maternity leave after Zai was born, but it was only 2 days a week & I found out the week I returned that I was pregnant with Ellie. I quit my job on my maternity leave with Ellie. It was not long after that that I felt God call my role to be that of a wife & mother only. I am so thankful for this & of course now we are home schooling & just love it! I love that I can spend this much time with my precious children - I do hope I am enjoying the moments!
Thank you for the reminder to stop & take notice of these precious times.
Have a wonderful week

Tanya said...

Hi Ann,
So nice to meet you and your family...I am a follower of Carrie's at Farming on Faith and found you. Your Australian life looks so fun and interesting! I will be back to visit and get to know you better!
Lovely blog you have!!

Camille said...

How many lies we believe! What a blessing that the LORD drew you back to the heart of the home Ann! What a blessing that you share your heart here...I am sure many will be encouraged by your experiences. Have a wonderful week!


SF said...

Beautiful Ann, thank you. :) I look forward to part 2. Saminda x

Chris said...

How uncanny for me to read this post now. It must be the time of year for reflection, as I had a moment recently around my marriage to Dave.

I wrote a post on my blog recently, which led me to drag out my wedding pictures and writing another post all about that day. Well, more about the man I married on that day, LOL.

This is the uncanny part though: 'From this Moment' by Shania Twain, WAS our wedding song! I nearly fell over when I read that part.

Actually, we've had a testing moment with finances too and God must've known that, hey. Because we haven't heard Shania Twain's song for many, many years now. As we were driving up the highway, holding each other's hands and wondering where our financial future was headed, guess what song (after all these years) plays on the radio?

It's uncanny I should read your post only today too, because in many ways, it's the right order. God had a few things he wanted me to realise before putting your words in front of me.

I've been realising how the moments have been squandered (in the past) and I want that not to happen any more. :)


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