Hard choices that shouldn’t be hard: a tale of intentional parenting choices

I made a tough choice this morning. It really shouldn’t have been difficult, but it was. We were leaving for an international trip TODAY. I had a million things still to do (packing, final laundry, another blog post- yikes!, house cleaning, you know…). Plus, of course, I wanted to get in my daily bike-and-swim workout before being away for a week on vacation.

So when she came whimpering into my bed just before my 5:30 a.m. alarm went off, I was less than thrilled. She’d had a bad dream. AGAIN.

Intentional parenting choices: choosing to hold her

 

She was tired and needed to go back to sleep, but I knew she wouldn’t if I got up. I was tired, too, but I am a very task-driven person. My mind- and my body- felt compelled to get up and get GOING on the long list of required to dos. I couldn’t push things off for another day. There was a hard deadline of “necessities” before the plane took off that evening.

I had a real internal struggle. My instincts cried out to get up and seize the day! But my heart reminded me that I want to live intentionally. That I don’t want regrets. That she won’t always come running to cuddle with me in bed after a bad dream. That my mommy-daughter snuggle time is limited. That she is more important than anything on my list.

And I made an intentional decision to hold her. To hold my precious daughter and let her sleep, safe and secure in my arms. To just BE. I was not successful at shutting down my brain, which raced and raced… but I did hold my body still, arms wrapped tight around her.

I’m a little ashamed that it feels like a sacrifice. To give up making progress on task lists (even on a day that includes leaving the country) in favor of staying in bed. I didn’t want to “sleep” in. But she wanted me. She needed me.

And that’s what motherhood is about. Making those tough choices day after day. It won’t always be these same circumstances or a decision like this. And maybe it won’t always be possible to choose as I did today. But the choices will always be there. The choice to be strategic and intentional in how I spend my time. The opportunity to choose, each day, what and who I prioritize. To choose what is best over what is good.

Perhaps this one small victory will make next time easier.

How do you manage to be intentional and make the tough choices about how you spend your time? What’s your advice for enjoying the moment and avoiding the trap of nonstop busy-ness? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so comment below. And if you enjoyed this post, please share on Facebook!

 

“She counts not the cost of nights without sleep and days full of giving…” Mother’s Day tribute and FREE printable!

Motherhood with a 3 year old and 5 month old
She counts not the cost of nights without sleep and days full of giving…

In honor of Mother’s Day, I am sharing a tribute I wrote in 2007, inspired by the amazing young mothers surrounding me at that time. Visit us over at our Legacy Tale site to read the story and download this free printable poem. It just might work for that Mother’s Day gift still on your to do list!

Keep up the great work, Moms, and Happy Mother’s Day!

(Don’t forget to grab your free printable via this link!)

Enjoy life- and your children- right now!

I found a new blog I love: The Things I Love Most!

This post is such a sweet reminder of what’s truly important.

Enjoy Life With Your Children - "The Last Time" Printable

Ironically, I found and read this post early one morning with my sleeping 7-year-old snuggled up tight against me in bed; she had come in (again) sometime in the night. Pain was shooting through my arm from another night of holding her tight.

When the interrupted sleep gets “old,” I try to remember these days are numbered and enjoy the cuddles! Someday I may not miss the sleepless nights of motherhood, but I absolutely will miss the thrill of small arms holding me tight, coming to me for security and love.

How do you choose to enjoy life now? What do you do- in the midst of motherhood or other challenges- to remember to savor the moments and find joy?

I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences!

I never knew we were THAT couple. Tips and hope for overcoming challenges in marriage.

Seriously. I never knew we were that couple… or that we ever could be. That couple that could work at home together… and spend every minute together… complement each others’ abilities… and actually enjoy each other.

For many years, we were the couple barely hanging on. We were the “why do they even stay married?” couple. We struggled. That’s an understatement. I describe those days as very dark. Life felt dark and heavy. It was hard. Really hard.

But we stuck with it.

And then, miraculously, we became the couple that found great joy in our children together. We were happy watching our babies and toddlers learn and grow, we found fulfillment doing everything with and for our children.

But I always wondered what would happen when the kids were gone. All of our happiness and togetherness was tied up in our roles as parents. I feared we really only were happy together because our amazing, beloved children united us.

And then, miraculously again, we somehow, one day, had a great time together without our children. We wanted more of that time together. We actually began to love and appreciate each other again… outside our roles as mom and dad. I don’t know exactly how it happened. But I’m sure glad it did. meme-families-improve-relationships-1390582-gallery

I’m truly humbled and amazed that now we can spend all day, every day together and appreciate and support and strengthen each other. That doesn’t mean it’s always hunky dory; we definitely still disagree often and have very different perspectives. We have trouble communicating. Our short-term priorities don’t always match and sometimes we can be selfish. But we truly value one another and are unified in our love and purpose. So, amazingly, finally, we are that couple.

It’s been almost twenty years since we  made eternal covenants as husband and wife. We take those covenants very seriously, and are so grateful that we have figured out we can have great joy together… more than I ever thought possible. Seriously. This is better than I ever imagined!!

So we’ve reflected about how and why our relationship has transformed for good over the years, and offer the following reasons. Maybe they will be of help to you. The work that is marriage, is worth it.

Hilarie:

  • We kept having prayer together all those years, even when we didn’t feel like it and it was just “going through the motions.”
  • I still pray every day to be humble and have charity in my marriage.
  • Even when I felt I was the only one trying, I never gave up. The Lord blessed me with the gift of faith.
  • Though the burdens were very heavy at times, I tried to not talk negatively about him.
  • My dear, divorced Jewish friend taught me that even difficult marriages are better than the pain of divorce. [I realize that is not a universally true statement.]
  • I relied on the motto: “If a man is worth loving at all, he is worth loving generously, even recklessly.”
  • I relied even more on the Lord.
  • I try hard to apologize even when I don’t want to. It’s better to be happy than right.Hilarie and Ben, married almost 20 years
  • Managing expectations is helpful; I try to be grateful for whatever he can do or be or give at various times. I remind myself how often he overlooks my weaknesses.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions; it really helps when I give him the benefit of the doubt and am extra patient as we try to communicate.
  • Remember that love is a choice. And it is an action verb. Choose every day to love him.

Ben:

  • Prayer, every day.  As a family, couple and individually.  Sometimes we forget, sometimes it’s rushed, but we and I strive to consistently pray.
  • I try to have those prayers focus more on gratitude than needs.  Granted, I need a lot, but looking to be consciously grateful – while challenging – helps get and keep the correct mindset.
  • Author Aldous Huxley said, “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”  To that, I would add, “and seeing the negative.”  I think this mindset comes quite naturally for both men and women.  Consciously decide to NOT take things (or people) for granted; to look for and recognize the positive.  Sometimes that is hard, and often I fall short on this.  That segues to my next point.
  • When you or your spouse make a mistake, or don’t do something as well as you’d like, don’t dwell on it, move on.  By all means, give some thought as to how you can do better next time.  Societal norms teach that failure is a bad thing, but great people see failure as a learning opportunity.  Resolve to be great, as an individual and a couple.  Understand that takes time.  I love this well-known quote about failure:

I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.  I have lost almost 300 games.  On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot, and I missed.  I have failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that’s precisely why I succeed.”

– Michael Jordan

  • Tell her she’s beautiful.  Mean it.
  • Use the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change and become better, bit by bit, day by day.
  • Faithfully take action.  There will be many times when you don’t know what the right thing to do or say is.  Exercise faith in God, make a decision that He would approve of, and do it.  If it turns out to be wrong, refer to the Michael Jordan quote above.
  • Say “I’m Sorry” and “Thank you.”  This has been shared who knows how many times.  It may seem cliche, but it’s not.  Be quick to forgive, quick to ask forgiveness, and always look for reasons to be grateful.

 

How do you strengthen your marriage? We’d love to hear what works for you!

Sunnybrook Farm produces (Summer and Fall 2015)

From those beautiful February days of planting, we did have some production at Sunnybrook Farm.

Ryan was a terrific steward over his precious pepper plants and harIMG_20151125_202333528vested a horde of jalapenosIMG_20151107_112929302!

We turned them into jalapeno poppers, dip, soup, and froze them to use all year.

 

 

 

 

 

Our Moapa squash seeds, a local cultivar that I use like pumpkin, also gave us an abundant harvest.

Rebecca won a “carving” contest at Halloween with her Mr. Moapa.

Mr. Moapa squash

 

 

At Thanksgiving, Ryan was a trooper cleaning out all the seeds and goop so I could turn Moapa squash into pumpkin streusel squares (yum!) and a side dish.

 

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And, of course, not pictured here is the often-overwhelming zucchini harvest. I think we had so much that it wasn’t fun anymore, so no pictures. 🙂 We also enjoyed some delectable tomatoes, but they never last long enough.

It’s always a joy- and a bit surprising- when we have gardening success!! We’d like to think we are somewhat self-reliant, though we still have a long way to go…

We are- and try to be- House Upon a Rock.