savoring life with my littles… I think

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“And what’s your plan for the day?” Elliott asked me this morning as he poured coffee into his travel mug.

“Absolutely… nothing… planned,” I replied, sorting through my schedule and coming up empty.  “Maybe we’ll take a walk?”

“Sounds nice,” he sighed wistfully. “Taking a walk, reading books, all with your kids….”  With that he kissed us all goodbye and walked out the door for another day in the vet clinic.

He’s so right, I realized as I sat down on the rug a few minutes later to play with Lena and Gil.  It has been good for my soul to be at home with our children these past two years in Sicily.  I know that Elliott, too, would trade places with me in heartbeat.  And yet for this season of life it’s been my privilege to be the one who gets to be at home.

In an act of thankfulness, I picked up my camera and took some pictures of our morning.

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And then I read this article today entitled Don’t Savor Every Moment and have since struggled over posting these pictures.  The author of the article challenged the tendency today for young mothers “to take in all of life and to feel the constant beauty of motherhood. We are a generation that puts an incredible premium on happiness.”  Her conclusion is that we should learn in every situation to be content (Philippians 4:11) and to let go of the burden of savoring and capturing every moment.

I know that this article was written just for people like me.  I know the pressure of wanting to capture these years with my children; I know the desire to edit my life along with my pictures.  I often let my motherhood become my identity instead of finding my roots in the renewing work of Christ within me, as the author so aptly put it.

In the end, I am a mother for this season here on earth, at home with two beautiful children, shouldering the weight of parenthood and adult responsibility with a compassionate husband.  Yet this is not my ultimate identity, or my final identity.  It is like a spark, here and gone, in the grand scheme of my life and in the far broader swath of eternity.  But I love this spark, these moments, and so I savor them for as long as they are given to me.

And so here are the pictures from this morning, already a moment here and gone.

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^ Lena read books in bed while I put Gil to bed.  She’s proudly showing me the horse she found.

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^ I don’t know about you, but I’ve given up on dust covers on children’s books.  A stack of them waits to be used again… never?

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^ When Gil wakes up, they seem to be saying to each other, “Why… hello there!”

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What about you?  Do you feel like you meticulously, even frantically, capture and savor every moment?  Or do you feel like you’re still waiting for your life to start?  Or have you found a balance that gives you roots in a greater story?

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18 Responses to savoring life with my littles… I think

  1. Jenna May 9, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    Hmm, the author seems to use “savor” and “capture” interchangeably. Savor seems consistent with “in everything give thanks” and “be content in all circumstances.” Jesus used the beautiful things in life to illustrate his lessons, talking about the birds of the air, the lillies of the field, and the wedding feast of the Lamb, so obviously he observed and noticed, perhaps even savored them. How else are we supposed to be grateful if we don’t notice what we’ve been given? The author creates a dichotomy between savoring and realism that I’m not sure exists.

    However, she is right that there is a burden of “savoring” as defined by the blogging world — a public capturing of your breakfast bowl of cereal moved just so into the morning light with a jug of flowers naturally tossed next to it. (by naturally I mean carefully arranged for 30 minutes before you take any of the 21 pictures that you will then edit in photoshop. ;)

    Maybe we should make a distinction between savoring and savoring for show? I love reading your blog, because your posts are genuine. You show what is good and don’t shy away from the bad. You take pictures of your babies doing what they do and of the beautiful place you live. It seems, at least to the casual reader, that you savor the *real*, not a phantom, fairy-tale life that most people aren’t even savoring, they’re imagining through carefully edited shots.

    All that to say, I like reading when you savor things. Lena and Gil are straight up the cutest. :)

    • Joy @ Caspara May 9, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

      Wow, Jenna, I think you have said it so well! I completely agree! I also agree that Lena and Gil are adorable! :-)

    • Becca May 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

      THANK YOU, Jenna! Such a thoughtful, wise comment… and so encouraging! I agree with you 100% about the article; you saw through it and have a great perspective on it. You also put a spring in my step, too!

  2. Tiffany May 9, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    I think I’m in that savoring-every-moment part right now because I’m the one working outside the home, so I feel like I have to make every moment count. It’s been tough to find a balance between doing the dishes or something like that and reading one more book (again and again), but I’m sure we’ll get there as we adjust. For now, the savoring generally wins over everything else, but it’s pretty nice!

    • Becca May 10, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

      I am proud of you for working outside the home to help your family, Tiffany! And yes, if I were in your shoes, I’d be especially eager to cling to every moment with my kids. Perspective!

  3. Lucy May 9, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    I think it’s good to savor and be thankful, remembering the Source of all that we enjoy. As one who is older, I often have felt the tension of wanting to hold on to the fleeting, lovely moments, yet knowing I can’t. A perspective that has been helpful to me as one who follows Christ is that these days are fleeting, but an eternity awaits to enjoy Him and the pleasures He gives.

    • Becca May 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

      Yes, I agree so much, Mom. Honestly, part of why I savor my time with Lena and Gil so much is because I don’t know how much longer I’ll have them. Maybe the rest of my life or maybe just a short while. Either way, eternity awaits, and that is what my heart longs for.

  4. Alica May 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    I look back on when my kids were little, and I realize that I didn’t “savor the moments” like I now wish I would have! God gave me (us) that time with them, and I was so stressed sometimes, (with juggling both farm work and mothering) that I eagerly wished for “the next stage”! I think that yes, mothering is perhaps not our ultimate identity, but it’s where we are right now, and it’s ok to savor it! :)

    • Becca May 10, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

      If I were running a farm in addition to raising young children… yeah, forget about stopping to smell the roses. I’d be too stressed out! Thankful for your perspective as always, Alica.

  5. Helen May 9, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

    Amen, Lucy!

    These moments are wonderful and it is right to savor them, there is a time for everything, is there not?

    The memories you are making and registering will carry you a long way in the future and they are a taste of the joy that awaits us in heaven, I am sure!

  6. Shelby May 9, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    I think I get what you’re saying, Becca. I so often feel this intense pressure to be “in the moment” all the time, when I think, in reality, I already am. I think all of us moms naturally are in the moment – how can we not be while caring for young children? There is so much guilt in young mothers that we aren’t doing this parenting thing “well enough” because parenting today is measured in how well you record it via photos and facebook and blogs.
    I too am constantly remembering that while I am a mother, I won’t be mother-ing forever. At some point my children will be grown up and I will take on a different role. Then another, then another. I am still working on finding my own roots in the greater story that encompasses each role as I take them on.

    • Becca May 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

      I agree with you, Shelby, and loved what you said here: “I think all of us moms naturally are in the moment – how can we not be while caring for young children?” Really, you’re right. Maybe our obsession is more with preserving the moment forever, and preserving it to look better than it actually was. But, either way, yes… we HAVE to live in the moment!

  7. Rachel May 10, 2013 at 12:29 am #

    That first picture of Lena is amazing…and the last picture of Gil.

    • Becca May 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

      Thanks, Rachel! Miss you. :-)

  8. Abby May 10, 2013 at 2:00 am #

    You have probably already seen this circulated on the internet, but it is a really similar article to what you’re describing (although probably a different tone), and one that a lot of people enjoy. http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/04/2011-lesson-2-dont-carpe-diem/

    I have a 20 month old son, and I just can’t imagine him ever being as good as Lena appears to be when you are busy with Gil. I would love to hear more about how Lena is able to play on her own, and how she helps out. My son is so clingy and emotional, and I keep hoping it is just a phase. Lena seems so grown up!

    Love reading your blog – even though you don’t know me – we seem to have similar points of view. You’re doing great work!

    • Becca May 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

      Yes, Abby, I have seen that article and loved it! Thanks for reminding me; I want to read it again.

      I love your question about what to do with your first child while tending to your second. I might write a blog post about it… which means I’ll have to think about it more! Right now it’s just a work in progress every day. Basically I have had to completely give up anything I want to do (groan) and just give my full attention to each one, one at a time. That means when Gil’s napping and Lena’s up, it’s her time, not my time; the same is true when Lena is napping and Gil wakes up from another 20-minute nap. By encouraging independence and really focusing on my children, they both seem to be fairly secure in sharing affection and amusing themselves as they need to. Hopefully this will get easier over time!

  9. Allison May 10, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

    Book covers – since you love books like our family. :) We buy a roll of book covers from BroDart and I cover all our books. I get the BroDart Fold On Book Jackets Covers in 10″, 12″ and 14″. (measure your books to see what you would most use) I just cut the appropriate length off the roll and fold on, smooth the fold with a plastic bowl scraper. We also get 4mil Gloss Economical Vinyl Laminate for paperbacks and well loved board books. The kids have always handled all but our most collectible books freely and they are still in good shape with this care.

    Yes – time flies! My baby just graduated! Well, the one we thought was our baby for enough years that it still feels like that. For years my prayer has been, ‘Please help me live intentionally and savor the moments well enough that we have few regrets and many beautiful memories’ as we travel though the years of our lives. We seem to make a point of saying intentional hellos and goodbyes even for little things like a trip to town or practice. I try to end my day with a smile over some memory made that day. We try to embrace change rather than fight the inevitable. I glean much and am encouraged by seeing the lives of beautiful women like your mother.

    Considering that Lena is learning to amuse herself well in the moments when mommy doesn’t have quite enough hands I dare say your children will do well learning how everyone can have side by side quiet times/work times/ playtimes. A few here have been short or non-nappers and for several years I tutored in the afternoons where there was some non-nap overlap. The kids learned to let me know they were awake and then amuse themselves with specific activities/snack we had out just for those hours. Sometimes that meant an entire book case was emptied and enjoyed, book by book, but they were happy enough to help me carefully put them away later and tell me about that day’s new favorite to be set aside for bedtime. To this day a quiet afternoon will often find each of us happily amused in our own thing while happy to have the company of others nearby. B still sometimes needs a little help thinking of an independent activity, but he is quite content once directed and also reminded of when we will all play a game or enjoy a read aloud or outing together. Just some food for thought as you find your family rhythm with little ones.

    Wish we lived around the corner and could slip out for afternoon walks and treats. We think of you especially on Wednesdays when we go to Farmer’s Market and often a little gelato treat – blood orange and coppa mista are the current favorites.

  10. Anna H May 15, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    Reading your thoughts on savoring/capturing the moment reminds me of how C.S. Lewis addressed it in Perelandra, the second of his science fiction trilogy which is set on the Edenic world of Venus (I just read it to my younger siblings, which is why it came to mind.). Have you read it? In case you haven’t, the main character, Ransom, has been sent to Venus to try to stop a second temptation and fall. At one point, the Satan character is tempting the Eve character to go and live on the prohibited Fixed Land (they live on floating islands that change shape depending on the shape of the wave beneath them). If she lives on the Fixed Land, he says, she will have a place to store up all the “goods” that she already has–to hold on to them, in a sense. She realizes, however, that God has given her an “uncertain, unstable” dwelling place because wants to teach her to put her trust in him for her happiness. Rather than trying to hold on to past goods and lamenting when we no longer have them, she says, we should step into oncoming wave gladly, trusting that it will bring a new good.

    I feel like I’ve summarized Lewis’s thought rather poorly, but the principle behind it is very powerful. Our sinful tendency is to a) greedily drink a surfeit of the good we have, b) weep for a theoretically better past, or c) grasp for a better future. All of these options arise from an underlying discontent with the gifts God gives us in each present moment.

    Since I am neither a mother nor a wife but instead rather have a rewarding yet highly stressful job, I sometimes feel like I fall into both categories at once! Sometimes I feel like my life hasn’t begun yet because it seems to be almost entirely work right now, with no prospects of marriage or motherhood. Most of the time, I feel like I’m frantically trying to make it through each minute and get yet another project done or set of papers graded. I don’t really manage to do a lot of savoring, as I realized today during chapel when God reminded me how thankful I really am to have each student and staff member as a part of my life, and I need to do a lot more of it!

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