How we can be world-changers. You and me.
Recently, I’ve talked a lot about New Years’ goals and all kinds of ambitious plans here on the blog. If you’re an Enneagram fan, you’re not surprised that I’m an Enneagram 3…also known as “The Achiever.” And I confess, I love it. I love dreaming, writing, creating, and sharing. And when it’s done, I can’t wait to do it all again.
But over the past few weeks I’ve been shifting my priorities a bit, and in case someone else needs this reminder, I thought I would share it with you, too.
As you might remember, my oldest son, Josiah, came home for the holidays from his first semester of college. It was such a special time, and though he had grown and changed in all of the college-kind of ways, thankfully he was still very much Josiah: Kind, helpful, encouraging, and super fun to have around.
During his visit we all reminisced…told stories, laughed over funny memories, and reflected on God’s goodness to us through the seasons.
Then he left. And I continued to reminisce. I kept slipping into a quiet place, trying to remember what Josiah was like when he was 3. Or 7 or even 15. (anyone else
neurotic like me do that?) I recalled that blue t-shirt he wore basically every day of 3rd grade and the “Shell Sales’ he used to set up in our cul-de-sac. (Thank you to the one neighbor who faithfully bought his shells.) I smiled, remembering those fantastically large front teeth (that he was totally unaware of) before the rest of his body caught up with them.
Thoughts moved then to each of my boys, and I was straining my brain to picture them each in various seasons and stages. Interestingly, it wasn’t the highlights I was recalling. I didn’t think about our trip to Disneyland or even the Christmas they all got their first bicycles. (though those are great memories.) The memories that filled my mind were the DAILY days…the ordinary, nothing special days of breakfast, naps, walks to the park, school work, band-aids, prayers, and bedtime stories. The memories were happy, but oh my heart began to ache deeply for how time has gone by so quickly.
Of course in those early years, time seemed to crawl by, the monotony of the days stringing one into the next. No one is watching us moms do the heroic work then. No one applauds us for being up at night to feed a baby, or soothe a kid with a fever. Back then I might have dreamt of a job or a hobby or a vacation or anythingatall to relieve me of the mundane. I wanted so much to raise great sons , yet it was hard to see that I was getting anywhere. I certainly didn’t feel important or like a world changer then, but looking back now, I know I was.
Now that I see who my older boys are becoming, I am all the more sure of it.
There’s a lot I like about that Mom I look back and see. She didn’t have a blog and she had never heard of social media. She hadn’t discovered the Enneagram so she didn’t even realize that she was an “Achiever.” She was actually pretty regular, and often lonely — raising three little boys on an island while her husband trained ridiculously long hours to become a doctor. She was far from a perfect mom, but she showed up every day. And she did her best.
These thoughts made me wish that I could go back, even just one more time, to those early, simple days. And though the memories are mostly really good, and thankfully, I have very few regrets, I do wish I had enjoyed each moment a little bit more…lost my temper a little bit less. I wish I had held my older boys more, even when there were little ones demanding my attention.
I could only stay in that place of reflection for so long before I was struck by the reality that I still have three more boys right here in my home. Three boys who are growing and changing before my eyes. Boys with their own shell collections, over-worn t-shirts, and another one with the big, beautiful front teeth. (it comes from my side of the family. 😉 )
And I realized the simple but profound truth that today — right now! — is a day that some future version of me will look back on and strain to remember. Today is quite literally a future memory.
And oh how I want it to be a good one.
Because now my plate is a bit more full (overflowing, actually.) I have social media to connect, distract, and entertain me. I’ve been blessed with this awesome blog and a book deal and so many possibilities. Now I do know about the Enneagram, and that I’m wired to be an achiever, so there’s my permission to go crush goals and do all of the things!! I see those women on social media who are raising kids while running empires, and oh how they impress (or is it intimidate?) me.
Then I’m reminded of something a wise, older woman taught me years ago:
There are many things I can do, but only a few things that ONLY I CAN DO.
Only I can be a great mom to my boys.
Only I can be a great wife to my husband.
Only I can offer the nurturing, care-giving, middle-of-the-night soothing, hand-holding, motherly counsel, prayer, and compassion that my family needs.
And while some women may have the capacity to raise a family and still be sensational-goal-crushing-success-stories, I’m pretty sure I cannot do it all. Or at least do it all well.
Even while I was writing the chapters of my Boy Mom book, and faced days where I could work on it just a little bit more, or spend quality time with my family, I was often reminded that the best thing I could do to write a great parenting book was to be a great parent. If I’m going to encourage people to raise amazing families, then by all means, I best be busy about raising mine. So, I am learning to be intentional with my time – never getting it perfect, but trying to keep my priorities straight. And then — I tell myself — I’ll have lots more time to write books and create things when my nest is empty. (I’ll have a lot more wisdom then, too!)
To be clear — I am super grateful for the work/ministry/opportunities that have come into my life. These things add joy to my days and definitely help keep me sane. But heaven forbid I ever mix these things up with the most important thing.
I don’t know if you relate to any of this, but I’m kind of guessing that a few of you will. Maybe some of you are considering a new job or some life change that you know (whether you’ll admit it out loud or not) will affect how present you can be as a mom and a wife, and maybe I can encourage you to really think about it before you do it. Maybe it sounds really stimulating or fulfilling, and maybe it will be. It may not be wrong. But honestly: It may not be best. For this season. For your family. In light of your most important thing.
I know many of you need to work to provide for your family, and that is often a completely loving choice. But as far as it depends on you to choose how you spend your time, I urge you to spend it wisely.
Because one day those kids will grow up, and (we can hope-) they will become independent. We know that tomorrow is not even promised. Time with our kids, our husband, and all of those we love may be shorter than we know. This day you are living..whatever season you are in…will one day be a memory. Today is a day you will reflect on when you’re older and grayer and have more quiet moments for reflection. So make sure you’re keeping your main thing your main thing. You’ll never be a perfect parent, or spouse, or anything else, but you can keep showing up. Being present.
Because true world-changing usually happens in the unnoticed, unglamorous but most important place we call home.
I’d love to hear from you…I invite you to share in comments below — a sweet memory from your kids’ earlier years, or the season you’re in now that may be hard to believe will one day be a treasured memory. I’d also love for you to share this post using social media (or in an email to a friend!) . If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll subscribe to this blog to receive a note when I post something new. Thank you for being here!