I’m such a better mom on vacation. I slow down, I don’t sweat the small stuff, I notice beauty in the details, I rarely yell, and I have lower expectations.When I’m traveling I’m more laid back, I laugh harder, I watch my kids when they sleep, I play more. I spend my time relishing in the fingerprints of my Creator, gratitude flows easy, and I eat ice cream before dinner (ok, ok I do that at home too!). I like vacation mom.
We’re in-between trips right now. In between mom? She’s high strung. She’s got a to-do list that never gets finished. Her patience is thin. She feels overextended and wrongly focused. Just today I complained about the messiness of my house, the busyness of my kids’ schedules, how long my husband spent at the gym, and that someone broke the TV remote. First world problems, I know. I fill days with minutes that don’t matter and it feels like never enough when the day is done.
I’m doing a Bible Study on the book of Numbers, and this past Thursday the author (Melissa Spoelstra) asked a question that I felt was directed right at me: “Do you find yourself managing your blessings or taking the time to relish them?” I’m sad to say, I’ve become a full-time manager.
All of those complaining statements above are a symptom of managing my blessings instead of treasuring the gifts. What would my days look like if instead of stressing out over the consistent state of messiness that is my house, I focused on creating a house where my children feel safe and loved. My perspective shifts when I stop to consider the miracle that I even have children with busy schedules (hello, 7 years of infertility). Yes, my husband spent a few extra minutes at the gym trying a new workout today, but there was a time that when he was bed-ridden in a hospital for 6 weeks when his pancreas failed. Too often we lose the wonder of His love, of His grace. The last thing I want to do is become apathetic to all that God has given me by defaulting to ‘blessing management’ instead of awe and wonder.
I often find myself planning or looking forward to the next thing, but it has occurred to me lately I’m missing the middle. And the middle – it’s got the best stuff. But what is it that causes me to spend so much of my living hours struggling to see it? “Getting to the next thing without fully entertaining the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing… Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out, I was throwing it away.” [Mark Buchanan]
What would it look like to live our ordinary days in the most extraordinary ways? Where to start? Ann Voskamp said “As long as thanks is possible, joy is possible. Joy is always possible. Whenever, meaning — now; wherever, meaning — here. ” It starts in the here and the now – seeing the gifts in each moment. Counting blessings instead of checklists. Slowing down and choosing to live. Really live. Fully live. In each mundane moment. Change is like exercise. In order to see results, I’ll have to put the time in. It takes real work to break old habits and build new ones.
So today we took the long way home to stop and jump in the puddles. We were late to nap and the toys didn’t make their way back to their labeled bins. I crossed things off my to-do list that I don’t actually have to do. I said ‘no’ to a good thing so my plate doesn’t get over-filled. And soon I’ll be cuddled up with my husband and my oldest watching Expedition Unknown: The Hunt for the Yeti (#boymom). I’ll have to answer a million questions about Big Foot and the validity of this expedition and yet my heart has never been fuller.
God gives gifts and I give thanks and that is where the real joy is found. And I bet joyful mom is even better than vacation mom.