We said goodbye to our wonderful dog last week, and I’ve been surprised at the levels of grief I’ve been experiencing.
Sadie was an amazing soul: beautiful, sweet, wise, loyal, faithful and trustworthy. All the things that a dog should be. She was my friend at all times—my protector, my confidante and my listener.
And while I am deeply missing her, I think what is bringing on the waves of emotion is something that has been simmering at the surface for me for quite a while:
I know every moment is a gift, and I am afraid I will miss the deepest, most precious gifts of this life.
Here’s One of My Greatest Fears
I’m afraid that I will become so consumed with my desire to give my kids the best education; to involve them in the “right” things; even to intentionally engage with them …. that I will miss out on the dear sweet journey of the everyday.
I am afraid that I will become so consumed with my desire to accomplish, to succeed in my own pursuits that I will allow moments—precious moments—with my husband to go unappreciated, or that I will waste my moments with him by doing other things that are meaningless.
I am really, really good at wanting to get it all done, and it takes lots of work for me to put aside my to-do lists and to simply enjoy the treasure of the moment.
But how do you hold that treasure? How do you appreciate that moment? It is like water slipping through our fingers. It is utterly impossible to hold on to.
And life is so slow in its changing. We live one day to the next and it seems nearly impossible to see any change one day to another. So it becomes easy to take the “Momma, you’re so beautifuls” and the toddler dimples for granted because they are there every day.
But then we wake up one day and realize that they are not.
It’s a delicate, heartbreaking, soul-ripping-out sort of tension that I don’t think any of us can ever master.
We can’t wait for our children to grow up, and yet we know we were sorely miss them as they are now.
Life Does Not Stop Moving
We like to think that things will always be this way. That our kids will always be at home with us. That our children will always be babies. That our health will always be good. That time will stand still and that it’s OK that we’re busy and stressed because nothing will change.
But it will. It can. In a heartbeat.
Each day–each moment–that we live is a gift.
And so I’m asking myself, “What am I doing to treasure that gift? What am I doing to savor it in the moment? Are the habitual choices I’m making going to leave me with regrets? What am I taking for granted? What can I release and let go of so that I can know that I’m living as freely and fully in the moment as possible?
And most of all, I am asking: What do I need to do now—in the everyday—to ensure that I don’t wake up that morning that my kids leave the house for college (or heaven forbid, should something tragic happen to them or to my husband) and I am filled with deep regret that I “missed it”?
How can I assure myself now—and that future version of myself to come—that I AM appreciating all the moments?
Because once the moment is gone, it is gone.
Every Moment Is A Gift (and 6 Ways to Savor Them)
I don’t have any answers. I don’t think anyone has a magic formula for treasuring those moments.
But I do want to write down a few practical things that perhaps I can do now to give myself some grace around this tension.
Maybe they can help you too if you struggle in this area?
1) I want to get back to my scrapbooks.
I have several unfinished books. My biggest problem here is my own self: I want to make each page a masterpiece; an expression that reflects in design and colors the beauty of that moment. And thus… they are unfinished. From a creative standpoint, I love the process of making them. But from a practical standpoint, I need to get them done and to get those memories savored.
How will scrapbooking help me? It will give me a tangible way to treasure what is going on in our family. I am going to look at digital options here because they are just so much more practical (you have no idea how much it kills me to write that!).
Actually, I was quite intrigued when I began looking at some exciting new digital scrapbooking options:
Mixbook offers beautiful traditional digital scrapbook methods (inserting your photos online and creating pages), plus innovative new ways to scrapbook, including Montage. Montage is super cool because it auto-magically places photos into the best layouts on each page. Even though the software lays the pages out for you, they do offer the option for different colors/designs that you can choose, which I appreciate.
Shutterfly is also another strong digital photo company offering several practical ways to showcase memories. From scrapbooks to photo collages, Shutterfly definitely has the most options when it comes to layouts (they have a Disney-themed book!).
2) I want to put out more pictures in the house.
We moved into our house (in a brand new area) about a year and a half ago. It was only a few months after we moved in that I re-launched this blog, wrote a book and began working on my “bloom” and “rhythm” courses. Oh, and somewhere in there I homeschooled four children! So I feel like while our house is beautiful, I never really fully finished decorating it. And I’d like that decorating to include more photos—both old and new.
I love photo canvases! We have a few of these in our house, and we receive compliments on them all the time. My goal is to get a set of updated professional photos of our family this summer and then create some new photo canvases out of those. I may take advantage of this deal from Simple Canvas Prints–40% off right now!
The kids and I love puzzles, and so I also think it would be fun to get a few of these puzzles made out of photos from some of our favorite events.
And speaking of photos…
3) Get my photos off my phone and my computer.
I have a treasure trove of (unorganized) pictures on my phone. And then, I have an even bigger group of (again, unorganized) photos on my computer. I am going to experiment with a few systems to keep these in check. Capturing memories is something I’m good at. Organizing them? I need to make a better effort here, and to come up with a regular system of documenting them.
I’ve been playing around with Becky Higgins’ Project Life app. With this app, you can literally design a digital scrapbook page on your phone–anywhere, anytime. The pages can then be sent to Project Life and they will create a photo book from them! I’m not in love with the idea of being on my phone more, but I do think it’s a very practical way to get those photos off my phone and to make digital scrapbooks super easy. I also like that I can add in different styles and text right there on my phone, so my creative side is somewhat appeased.
And have you heard about another app called Mosaic? This is probably the easiest way to do digital scrapbooks because it requires literally zero effort! The app takes a group of photos from your phone and auto-creates a 7 x 7-inch photo book in 5 minutes. The layouts are not fancy (they are literally one large photo per page) but it’s for sure an interesting option for ultra-busy moms, especially those moms who want to put together a scrapbook for a certain event (say a birthday or a particular season for a team sport).
4) Vigilantly protect my time and maintain a proper focus.
I love blogging. I love encouraging women. And I’m humbled by the ministry God has gifted to me of this blog and of my courses.
But I have to continually remind myself that my first ministry will always be to my husband and my kids. “What can I do to bless and encourage them today?” needs to be my daily focus and prayer.
My season with my kids is going to end so soon! And I do not want to wake up one day and realize that I don’t recognize the man laying in bed next to me because I’ve allowed my focus to not be on enriching my marriage and on serving him how ever he needs my help.
5) Give myself tons of grace now, and when I’m looking back.
This is a big one for me. So much of what we believe about something is directly related to our perspective on it.
I can do the best job as a mom and keep every memory categorized and saved in a scrapbook, and yet, if I believe that I failed or didn’t do enough, THAT is the memory that I will take from the experience.
I’m really good at remembering the imperfections. Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself of all the good things that are happening—the good choices I AM making. Am I giving my 100 percent best? If the answer is yes, then that means I am doing enough.
6) Continue to Free-Form Journal.
I’ve been bombarded with emotions and thoughts this week, and I’m trying to sort them out through a technique I call “free-form journaling.” It’s something I talk about in my “bloom” course, but in its simplest form, “free-form journaling” is an unstructured, way to write down thoughts and mental clutter.
In this situation, free-form journaling’s goal would be to simply get the raw emotions down on paper (no matter if they make sense or not) and to just begin praying through them and discovering some of the roots (are they rooted in truths or lies, for example).
As I’ve been writing this week, I’ve discovered some not-so-pretty things about myself that I need to address that I think will help relieve some of the fears I’m feeling. I know that keeping this lifeline open for myself will be crucial for continued mental health in this area.
This post is part of the “What Mommy Learned in Homeschool This Year” series with other iHomeschool Network bloggers.
Do you struggle with finding the balance between enjoying the moment and wishing some days away?
Do you have the same fears that I do about being afraid that you will look back and feel like you have “missed it”?
How are you practically cataloging and sharing these precious moments?
We’re linking this post to the Grace & Truth Linkup.