Finding Joy In The Chaos

Let's get real. Being a mom is hard.
It's screaming fits in public. It's teething for a year straight.
 It's catapulting pancake pieces across the kitchen. {Oh, your kids don't do that?}
It's everything I never imagined it would be. and... luckily, it's
Recently I was reminded of a quote about the "4 things you can never get back"
The STONE after it's thrown.
The WORD after it's said.
The OCCASION after it's missed.
and the TIME after it's gone.
I struggle with joyful times as a parent. What I mean is, I almost always
 ruin that amazing, breathtakingly beautiful moment with my child when he
 reaches a milestone or does something hilarious, or when he just runs up and
wraps his arms around my neck.
I enjoy it, I do.... for a moment. And then the realization sets in deeper that before
 I know it, he won't want to blow me these kisses anymore. He won't be small
 enough for me to scoop up and tickle, and some day, I will no longer be the most
 important woman in his life anymore. It's just reality. So instead of getting to
 stretch out these joyful times with laughter and big smiles on our faces, I turn
 into a pile of goo with tears streaming down my face and before I even know
 it, I'm gripping on to my kid like a leach repeating please don't grow up,
 please don't grow up over and over again.
Ugh. It's a pathetic sight. Believe me.
But moms, the thing we need to realize is, they ARE going to grow up.
There's nothing we can do about THAT.
What we CAN do something about, is finding so much joy in the everyday
 chaos so that we get the very most out of the time we are given with
 these precious little gifts.
If you would have asked me as a newlywed how I would feel about pancake
 pieces with syrup on my kitchen floor, I would have shuttered at the
 thought. Ha! Not in my immaculately kept home. {or so it was in some
parallel universe called my imagination} But I've found that as a mom, you just
 can't worry about those things. If you do, before you know it, you are running
 to grab a wet cloth all while scolding your child and drowning out the sound
 of his laughter and missing the big beautiful smile on his face. Do I mean
 not to teach him table manners? Well, of course not. If your child catapults
 food at every sitting, I'd say it's probably lesson time. But if this is a one time
thing and you can find it within yourself to play along for just a minute, I urge
 you to find the joy in it.
I use this as an example because it happened this morning. As I was teaching my
 son how to hold the spoon and put the pancake in his mouth, he grabbed a
 hold of the end of the spoon, pulled it down with all his might and let go -
 causing the pancake to rocket across the room. My eyes got big and my
 mouth opened wide and he started laughing the sweetest laugh I've ever
 heard in my life. My first reaction was to say "No, Connor!" in my annoyed
 tone and get up to grab the flying shrapnel off of the side of the cabinet.
But I remembered part of the quote I had heard days before - the things
 you can't get back ... and that moment, was something that I could
never be given again. 
-So I embraced it.-
I laughed and laughed with him. I took another piece of pancake and shot it
 over his head. He died laughing. He kicked his legs in his little highchair
 and snorted. Sure, I might have a mess to clean up later. I might have to
 make one more pancake so that he has enough to eat. And no, he will
 never remember that fun morning with Momma when we
 shot pancakes across the kitchen, ...
Yesterday we had to run some errands at the mall for a wedding I am
 in this weekend. I was a little nervous about how the day would go because
 I knew it would take me some time to find all of the things I needed,
and though my son is probably the friendliest kid I've ever seen - saying
 'Hi' and waving to everyone we pass and even blowing kisses to complete
strangers - he is still only one, and he still gets tired and irritable. 
We just made the most of it. I tried to find joy in the chaos all day, despite
 how tiring and stressful and hectic it all was. Though I needed to pick up
 most of these things for adults, I vowed not to make the day just about
 me while I had "a child inconveniently tagging along". We played in the
 fire trucks and cars. We met the Easter Bunny. We took photos in the
 photo booth. We ate lunch together and shared a fruit cup.
I could have just run in on a mission, got what I needed, shushed my
child with every person we passed and headed back home. It probably
would have been easier. But instead, we made memories.
It wasn't anything special. It hardly took any effort. But it was one of the
best days of my life. I know that's going to sound odd to some. Especially
 those whose lives are so exciting and adventurous and magical and don't
 include snotty noses and green beans spit into your hand.
So my advice to every mother-to-be or momma whose baby is still little
and has yet to learn to walk and talk and get into literally
 everything they see ....
Is to take a deep breath. To find joy in every moment.
 It's going to be a lot of work. You're going to have to do more physical
 labor than you want. You're probably going to break a sweat more
 than you hoped. You'll have to repeat the same silly things or
annoying songs over and over again just for a half of a smile.
 It means taking a detour on your shopping trips to let your kids
 just be kids. It means cleaning your kitchen (and your entire
house for that matter) more than you expected. And moms,
we're going to HAVE to get off of the internet and our cell
 phones. We're going to have to get off of Pinterest, and
Facebook, and Twitter, and Instagram, and our email, and our text
 messages and all of the other things that distract us during the day
 when our kids aren't napping and we should
be playing with and teaching them.
We aren't guaranteed another child. I think about that every day.
 And we surely aren't guaranteed another day with our little one.
This is the only one we're certain of. So I suggest we make the most of it.
We embrace the mess. We find joy in the chaos.
We send our children into their futures, knowing they are valued and loved.
...and if that means I have to clean up a few pancakes ... bring it on.
Children are the living messages we send
to a time we will not see.  ~Neil Postman

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