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Taking time: Moms can experience the joy of motherhood by slowing down

By Catherine Arveseth

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Oct. 14 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from the book "Deliberate Motherhood: 12 Powers of Peace, Purpose, Order and Joy" (republished in September 2013 by Familius).

Being in a hurry is my most potent trigger. One Sunday morning, while racing around the house like I was trying to win the Indianapolis 500 so we could get to church on time, my oldest daughter said to me, “Mom! We’re just kids!”

Sometimes I expect my children to put their things away as quickly as I can, come upstairs as fast as I would, or change their clothes in the same time I change mine. But the truth is, kid time is slower than parent time. And we ought to cut them some slack.

In an age when everything is instant — from communication and meals to ordering anything you want with a single click — no one is used to waiting, including me. Waiting has become a lost art. And teaching this to our children is most effective when they see it first in us.

In their book, "365 Ways to Raise Confident Kids," Sheila Ellison and Barbara Barnett describe patience as “a deep breath that slows us down long enough to act wisely.”

One breath can slow us down, redirect us and open the door for wisdom to walk in.

On her blog, A Holy Experience, Ann Voskamp, a Christian writer and mother of six, tells herself, “I will not have any emergencies today. Life is not an emergency. There are no emergencies. Only amateurs hurry.”

I repeat this mantra often.

Several weeks ago the girls had no school. We had no lessons, no play groups, no appointments, and I made the decision — no errands. We would stay home. We would put everything off that wasn’t necessary, and just be. In the early morning, I cracked doors to see if anyone was stirring. Curls fell softly around faces, small bodies burrowed under blankets, and I watched as they slept. I climbed onto the couch with a book and let them sleep until they wandered into the living room clutching blankets and smiling bashfully. I hugged each girl, then gathered the boys out of their cribs and we nestled onto the couch to read until we were hungry.

We made pancakes, poured the syrup thick, and sat together at the table, laughing. I wasn’t lacing little shoes in between spoonfuls of cereal. I was present. Fully. And it felt so good.

We made plans for the day to stay in our pajamas for a while, do puzzles, play games, and then bundle into winter clothes so we could build something out of the snow in our backyard.

I held the boys longer than usual when putting them down for naps. I whispered in their ears, sang songs, and breathed in their baby scent — aware of their lengthening bodies and the way Spencer tenderly draped his arm around my neck. I washed dishes and watched out the window as the girls packed and rolled snow. They came in and out, hunting for various accessories as three small snowmen took shape. When they finally came in to stay, we made hot chocolate.

The day was unusually peaceful, and I felt happy. The sun warmed my back as we built towers out of blocks in the living room. I saw things I am usually too hurried to notice, like the conversation my girls had when Sami gave up her favorite chair for her sister; the way Eliza told Ali her painting was “lovely”; and the swiftness with which all of them moved to comfort a brother who fell, or needed a pacifier.

Instead of pleading “just a minute,” I took Gordy’s hand when he said “Mama!” and let him lead me to his pile of Legos so we could play. I laughed at Spencer’s animal sounds and the way he giggled when Gordon poked his belly.

Sami joined me that night in the boys bedroom. She sang them her own lullaby, and each girl kissed their baby brothers goodnight.

As I loaded dinner plates into the dishwasher, Ali perched on the kitchen table per her usual place and called my name.

“Mom?”

“Yes?” I turned to face her.

“I love you,” she said.

An unusual sentiment for her and it split me wide open.

When will I stop racing through life? There is too much here. Too much to feel ... see ... listen to ... and love. Life is made of moments. And there will never be another now.

I know we can’t always amble through life. Downtime is not the norm. The typical day requires sticking to a schedule, a routine, and it’s a challenge to get everyone where they need to be on time. But we can pace ourselves. We don’t have to do everything the neighbors’ kids are doing. We don’t have to rush. We can decide on the right balance for our family and ourselves. We can quit looking sideways and look within.

The collection of stories featured in "Deliberate Motherhood" is compiled by PowerofMoms.com, an online community founded by Saren Loosli and April Perry, a “gathering place for deliberate mothers” that serves more than one million moms across 134 countries.

If you go ...

What: Reading, discussion from the contributors to "Deliberate Motherhood"

When: Thursday, Nov. 7, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

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