Sunday, April 29, 2012

present tense

These days are so long, especially the evenings. How can the few hours from dinner to bedtime feel like a lifetime?

The days I work are condensed and fast moving.  Everything must happen on time. The days I'm home are never-ending. There is always something to do. Both kinds of days are hard.

I do find joy through it all. I embrace the days, and the moments.  They say the days are long and the years I short.  I believe them. Even with the joy, with the embracing, the reminders--it doesn't always make the long days any easier. I raise my voice, hurry through routines.  Hurry up. Let's go. Please obey the first time.

Mothering is just hard. Hard on the body, hard on the soul. You are rarely alone, yet often lonely. You never feel like enough, yet you know you are who God made you to be.  Being a mom was a lifelong dream. And it's harder than I ever thought it would be.

Be present.  A challenge of mass proportions in our multi-tasking, comparison-driven, competitive society.  Being still, being present, are not things we are known for.

It was a leadership challenge given last week at a conference I attended, but a great mothering challenge as well.

A challenge to stop being so concerned about documenting, Instagramming, Tweeting and status updating your life.  Be present in the moment.  Those things aren't bad in and of themselves, but how and when we utilize the tools, is the issue.  I am certain I have stopped what I was doing, ignored the conversation of a child to post or share something cute or sweet.  And when I was done, I forgot was I was doing before and I missed an opportunity to connect with a daughter.

In the midst of the conference, of these challenges, I can't help but think.  What if I only had 21 yeas with one of my daughters? What if I only had 21 years to mother three daughters, before there were just two? What if I had 21 years to pour into a daughter, to help shape her character, her faith, her legacy?

This is the reality facing a family in my life. Their 21-year-old son, gone suddenly, much too soon. Leaving 16 and 19 year-old brothers. The 21-year old was was our main drummer for 2 or 3 years when I was leading worship for our students. He is the first student I've lost. It hurts.  I hurt for his family and friends.

Sitting in his funeral I was overwhelmed with the sense of loss and the grief in the room. Overwhelmed with thoughts of my own family.  What stood out to me most though, was how close the family was. The memories they shared.  Hearing these two boys talk about their brother and what he meant to them.  Hearing the words of his mom read.  Her letter closed with a request that he play the drums loudly in heaven so when she arrives, she'll be able to find him quickly.

I'll pause while you grab a tissue.

It was heart-wrenching.

Another young man who played in the worship band with us, wrote and performed a song for his buddy challenging everyone to love while it's still today because you might not have tomorrow.

I sobbed.  So much so a lady in front of me turned around to offer a tissue.

I am not guaranteed tomorrow.  So I need to be present today.

To raise my voice less and be more patient.  Because raising my voice does not usually make the kids move faster or follow directions any better.

To hold their hands more and my phone less.

To instill faith, hope and love.  To prepare my children for the unthinkable by giving them a firm foundation in family and faith.  Because in those tragic moments, that's all you have.

Last week, I cuddle more. I left my phone in the car and on the counter. I kept a soft voice and moved to their level.  I laid in bed with my three-year old and read a book before nap time instead of rushing to get to those minutes I have time to myself.  I gave in to requests for "one more song" before bedtime.

Because I don't know how long I have, we have, they have.  I don't dwell on the unthinkable, but it's there.

Today is a gift.  Live in the present tense.