I can’t get this phrase out of my head. A few weeks ago our pastor shared a tiny phrase that carried some big truth. He said,
Slow is fast.
If that doesn’t describe motherhood, I don’t know what does.
He was talking about the process of building our lives and how it closely resembles building a wall. A sturdy, stone wall that will last from generation to generation.
And when I look at what I’m building right now, it’s raising my children. I know many of you can relate, regardless of the season you are in.
In wall building, there are a few key factors that lead to a sturdy wall instead of a shaky one. First, you start by digging a deep trench where you place the biggest, most important stones on the bottom and create a sturdy foundation. Once placed, these foundational stones must be adjusted, and tweaked until they fit together without any cracks. And once the foundation is set, you continue to build upward with smaller stones until the wall is whole and complete.
Slow is fast when building a wall.
Slow is fast in the trench known as motherhood.
Digging a deep trench starts long before you even have kids. As parents we dig deep to know who we are individually and as a couple. And let’s not kid ourselves, after the birth of our kids we had to relearn each other all over again. Having kids brings up our own childhood and what went right and what didn’t. We are faced with our expectations and our dreams.
Digging deep is uncomfortable, but a really important step….
because the depth we are willing to reach individually and together is reflected in our family’s foundation.
Our pastor went on to say that the big stones represent what’s most important to us. What brings our life meaning. And for most of us, that’s our closest relationships (with God and others) and the work God has placed in front of us.
As a mom, I see each of my kids as two big, unique stones. And their lives are an integral part of my life. They will be what stands when I’m no longer here, God willing.
But right now a lot of my days feel like I’m in a trench. I dig, and lift, and lug and carry and adjust over and over and over again. It’s monotonous work of waking, feeding, cleaning, packing, loading, driving, entertaining, feeding, cleaning….and then feeding, cleaning…..and then feeding, cleaning….I swear my kids eat ALL DAY!? Any other mamas out there?! And then put them to bed and repeat again.
The adjusting feels frequent. Whether it’s adjusting behavior, to teach character. Or adjusting how they see themselves, to teach identity. Reminding them that they belong to a BIG and LOVING Heavenly Father, who calls them His own.
There’s continued adjusting with limits, and discipline. Trying to show them that limits are meant to bring safety and freedom, though they believe climbing the outside of the stairwell, eating dum dums while running, pushing to get what they want and eating fruit snacks for every meal is a WAY better idea. I caught myself trying to reason with them by saying: “I’ve lived longer than you so I know better!” And I can read their little minds silently saying…”no mom, my idea is still better because Elsa agrees.”
I was desperate, ok!?
But in the wise words of Jordan Peterson,
“Our biggest responsibility as parents is to raise kids that we like.
So moms out there, I’ve come off a hard week of a lot of slow, monotonous adjusting in my kids’ lives. I’ve got some strong-willed, opinionated, curious, adventurous, delightful, frustrating kids. This work of motherhood feels so slow.
But as our pastor pointed out, if we slow down and focus on the big stones we will discover we are building a sturdy and complete wall. And I know that I will continue to adjust these stones for years and years to come.
My mentor moms out there, I see you in the trenches of teenage years and I’m so grateful for the work you are doing. Us younger moms are watching and see you raising kind, strong and loving kids in today’s world. That’s no easy feat, and because you are, we believe there’s hope for us too. So thank you.
It may be slow now, but time goes fast.
My son starts kindergarten next year and I feel like I spent an eternity thinking…”Will they ever leave this house? Or will I be on this carpet with a huge mess of toys, smelling like spit up and drinking cold coffee for the rest of my life?”
“Will I ever be alone again?”
And in a few short months, my son will go to school EVERY day and I want to cry at how much I will miss him.
I’m reminded that the big, important stones of our lives take up a lot of our time. And if I’m honest I start to get mad that I don’t have more free time. Or I can’t explore my dreams more. But as I recently heard Suzanne Stabile say,
“We cannot expect an extraordinary life, but we can expect extraordinary moments.”
These ordinary moments really are extraordinary.
It’s when we notice our son working hard to build something by himself, and my husband offers to help and he says, “it’s ok dad. I can do hard things, remember?”
Or while my daughter and I are waiting to pick up tamiflu at Walgreens (because flu, blah) and the saint of a pharmacist hands her a dum dum sucker, she looks up and asks, “Can I have one for my bubba (aka brother) too?”
I see their hearts growing in resilience and compassion and it’s extraordinary to me that all the adjusting I do as a mom, in the ordinary moments, may be making an impact.
And then I immediately thank the Holy Spirit for moving in and through me, and for coffee and dry shampoo. But for real.
So to my fellow moms, who are deep in the trenches of raising tiny-walking-and-talking-humans,
It is slow today, and tomorrow and the next day.
But it will be over fast, and these little kids will be big.
And these big kids will be our tomorrow.
There is no more noble job. And this work matters. So let’s shoulder up and keep digging, and adjusting together. I have a feeling they will be big fast, and we will be grateful for these slow moments.
Cheers to motherhood,