I've never managed to get a firm grasp on where the line is between being selfish about wanting time for "me" and acknowledging the obvious truth that I'm a mother of four kids who require a lot of work and attention.
I love my life, would not want it any other way, and yet I can also admit that motherhood is hard. Kids don't raise themselves. When I close my eyes and dream and hope for my children...thinking about the people I want them to become one day, I know that nothing short of hard work and a butt-load of grace and prayer will be needed for the task at hand. Parenting is difficult. It takes a lot of time. More time than I ever feel like I have. Even on the days when I'm "all in," it stills seems like an awful lot fell through the cracks. I know loving and shaping our kids will take an awful lot of effort, but I also know that there's this part of me that desires space to grow and flourish in areas outside of being a mommy. I recognize those two ideas seem to play tug-of-war with each other, yet I still don't always know how to balance that tug.
This week in school our kids had to do a 5 minute presentation about an American artist in front of their class. Hayden picked his grandmother, Judy Hendrick (Aaron's mom). She may not be a famous American artist, but she is mighty famous to her grandkids.
I loved this house.
As Hayden was eagerly telling his class about his grandmother and showing off her artwork, I was surprised how emotional I felt. I blinked back some tears thinking about how thankful I am for Judy's life and her role she plays in our children's lives. Hayden was beaming with pride as he shared his grandmother with his class. As a woman and a mother, I was also inspired by her story too.
Aaron fishing with Anson
Aaron's mom did not start pursuing art until 2001. As a matter of fact, what drove her to her first art class was not a deep-down desire to learn to be an artist. She signed up for her first art class simply because her friend was teaching the class, and Judy wanted to support and encourage her.
Aaron and Ashton
Judy has drawn or painted pictures of each of our children. She has captured some of the sweetest moments in her art. I have zero artistic ability, but art stirs up deep feelings inside of me. It's been a pleasure to watch Judy's talent blossom over the years. Her love for art has also inspired our children. Art is a medium they use daily to express themselves. It is an inseparable part of their personality, and we owe Judy for awakening that passion in our sons.
I stood in the back of the room watching Hayden excitedly share his grandmother's art and her stories. I don't know about you, but there are times when I forget that life is made up of a series of seasons. Some last a long time. Some don't. I am consistently duped into thinking that the season I am currently in is the only one that ever has been and ever will be. Four kids. Educating them. Helping one of our children through some difficult issues. Dinner. Laundry. Errands. Marriage. Investing in relationships around me. Life. Each of these elements combined make for busy days where I sometimes feel lost and tired in all the needs that surround me. I feel like I'm helping everyone else grow, aiming for quality time, wanting so much for them, dreaming great big dreams for their lives, and yet I rarely have time to check-in on myself.
Judy's kids were completely grown when she started drawing and painting, and yet art is so much a part of who she is today, I can't imagine her and not immediately think of it.
I listened to Hayden telling the story of his grandmother and let the beauty of all of it wash over me. Judy's story is inspiring to me as a woman, but there was something extra special about hearing this message come out of my own son's mouth. One day that precious boy standing in front of his class will grow up. How is it possible to not want to rush that, to want to pour my love and attention into who he is becoming, and yet be comforted at the same time by the thought that there are endless possibilities for what lies on the horizon when the season of intimately caring for our children has ended.
Judy painted these bug canvases and music themed canvases for our boy's rooms.
I'm not sure I'll ever really "get" how to consistently make time for myself while I'm in the trenches with four young kids. I may never figure out what a "healthy balance" looks like. But a calming thought wrapped me up tight and cozy yesterday as I thought about Judy's life: One day there will be more time. And when there is, who knows what hidden talents, passions, or hobbies might make their debut.
You know a picture is incredibly life-like when you want to climb in it and kiss your baby.
What if under all this mommyhood is a one-day MD or movie director? What if there's a violinist just dying to break out? What if a white Tina Turner is hidin' all up in here? What if an artist is patiently waiting her turn, watching my babies turn into big boys before she introduces herself to me? Maybe one day when I'm not too busy matching 22,000 socks, I'll discover what seeds are planted inside of me that are quietly waiting for their season to bloom.
Maybe you will too, my friend.