This past weekend, our family traveled out of town to do some shopping. The trip was long enough that we planned for the little one to take his nap on the road. It would be a shorter nap than usual, but still a decent length of time. It was a great plan.
Except that kids, we’re finding out as we become more seasoned, don’t always follow plans! In fact, it often seems that the more we count on a plan, the more we can count on Aidan not following his usual routine. As they say, the best laid plans of mice and men … mean absolutely zippo to kids. Or something like that…
Anyway, the excitement of going somewhere apparently held much more sway over his little body than his internal, usually-by-the-book, sleep schedule. He watched out the window with wide-awake fascination for over half the trip. That made for a very short nap.
Which made our shopping much more … challenging, shall way say, as we tried to complete our tasks with a tired, cranky toddler. Not exactly the fun family outing we had planned!
After a few hours of wrestling, cajoling, and attempting to maintain some semblance of decorum (and sanity!), my husband and I were both pretty spent, neither one of us feeling especially joyful.
We were walking out of a store, having just experienced the mother of all meltdowns (Aidan’s, not ours, although it was close!), when I turned to Levon, smiled, and wryly said, “Children are a gift from the Lord, right?” (Quoting Psalm 127:3) He kind of chuckled, sighed, and said, “Yes, they are.”
The thought came out of nowhere. I certainly was not feeling that way in my flesh at the moment. I think I said it as a reminder to myself, and also partly as an ironic joke.
But then something amazing happened. I started to think on the words I had just spoken, and it changed the way I looked at my tantrum-throwing toddler that very instant. We were walking down the middle of the mall, hand-in-hand, Levon on one side, me on the other, and it hit me what a beautiful moment it was. I thought, “How sweet is this picture? The three of us holding hands walking together?” And I was struck by how incredibly blessed I was to have such an experience. I was reminded that not everyone gets to have that. There are women who would give anything to know what it feels like to hold their child’s hand or to share the wild ride of parenthood with the man of their dreams. I also realized that the day is coming quicker than I can even imagine when Aidan will no longer be the little boy holding my hand. And I smiled down at him, smiled at my husband, and treasured the memory of the day, tantrums and all.
So what is point of my mall adventures? What is the #1 key to joyful motherhood?
As with so many undertakings in life, perspective determines the quality of your journey, not the scenery. You can choose to be miserable when the road outside appears desolate, or you can find the beauty in your surroundings. You choose. Every journey can be sweet if you determine in your heart to see it. What do you see? Wastelands or potential adventures? Frustrations or learning opportunities? Responsibilities or blessings?
Reminding myself to be grateful for the blessings of motherhood restores my joy when my heart feels depleted. When I take my focus off the struggles and the frustration and the weariness, and choose to see the cute little face or the tender moments or the wonderful opportunity to watch this child grow, the tough moments don’t seem so tough anymore.
You know what I learned this weekend? With the right perspective, every day can be a merry momma day, even the short-nap-screaming-in-the-mall-no-that’s-not-my-kid days.
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