Is it enough or is it too much? I go back and forth multiple times a day. Have I scheduled enough activity, enough memory making, enough community time, this week for my son and I?
How did moms care for their kids before there were soft organic children’s clothes and curated nurseries and organic kids snacks?
Before the mommy and me classes, parks, playdates, and story times?
What was the expectation for parenting before the digital age?
I want to say that mothers did the best they could with what they had.
Which is what most of us or maybe just myself hope that I’m doing.
But really I’m measuring and comparing, either subtracting too much or adding too much.
Structure and good intentions
Millennial mothering seems to be all about structure and good intentions.
Making meticulous schedules, catching up on the newest parenting article. Terms such as “gentle parenting” “co-sleeping” and “attachment parenting” have been coined in this generation. Discipline your kids, don’t discipline them. Have a schedule, don’t have a schedule.
Let your babies sleep in the crib, no let them sleep with you.
We are all desperately trying to raise healthy, kind, loved, balanced human beings.
I think the danger happens when we no longer embody the qualities or characteristics we hope to instill in our children. For example, if I want to raise my son to be kind but am no longer being kind to him. If I want my child to be healthy but don’t let health have a priority in my own life.
One of the many hard things about parenting is the areas where we may strive to be a shining example for our children seems to be the areas they don’t realize. While other areas we don’t even realize that they are watching end up being the ones that they take examples from.
Even though my son may be small, I hope he realizes that Christ and our faith are a priority in our home. But if all the activities or actions surrounding that priority(church, bible study, prayer, serving etc) occurs with me yelling at him or getting impatient with him and having no grace for either of us- what message is that really sending? The grace that I receive should be the grace that I give freely. Some days I fail- I yell, lose my patience, and don’t choose the process. Other days the light bulb clicks on.
On one of our early mornings (let me just say, these are not a great idea for moms and toddlers) I was trying to get us out the door for bible study. You know the drill- make breakfast, get ready, get your kids ready, grab the diaper bag, purse, etc. My son was not having it that morning. It’s too bright, I don’t want to play with kids, I’m tired- all the reasons from my toddler of why he did not want to go. Rather than losing it like usual, I realized I have a sleepy little guy, the world is moving too fast for him this morning (too fast for us both) and I pick him up and hold him for ten minutes. He sucks his thumb, and twirls my hair. And I wrap my arms around this chunky little boy.
An era of slow mothering
We weren’t on time that morning, but we weren’t crazy late either.
I’m going to call this a “slow mothering” moment.
There seems to be a light turning on in the world as I type this, a re-birth of a “slow living” moment.
Minimalism, tiny houses, zero waste living, unschooling- they are all gaining traction as I write this.
Own less, live more. Live small, travel more. Less waste, more life. Child led learning, less structure, more joy.
More people are shopping at farmers markets, eating a paleo diet, doing digital detoxes, and cleaning their homes via the “Marie Kondo” method. We are all trying too “slow down”.
I pray this light bulb, this urge to “slow down” finds its way into our parenting.
Slow mothering might look like a little more savoring, a little less rushing.
A little less progress, a little more process. A little less structure, and a little more kindness. A little less curating and a little more spontaneity. A little less yelling, a little more laughing.
Here’s some equations for reference, feel free to make your own:
Overworked mother+overworked toddler =a really tiring day.
Mistakes+good intentions+grace= a chance to try again.
Irritable mother+irritable toddler+going outside=better mood for everybody.
Trying your best+balance = a good day.
I think we as a society and especially as women have been taught to measure everything. Our efforts, our children’s behavior, every wrinkle and every pound on our bodies. Instead of measuring, how about cups overflowing?
Hearts overflowing with grace and forgiveness, homes overflowing with peace and grace, lives overflowing with purpose and contentment. Let’s be a generation of mothers who aren’t dictated by Pinterest, who forget to post their day on Facebook, whose every activity doesn’t have to be “Instagram-able”.
Let’s be the mothers who slowed down with time instead of being rushed through our children’s lives.
Time won’t slow down, but we can.
“The rebirth of slow mothering” was first published here.