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The days are long but the years are short--before I had kids this is what I always heard parents say. And from experience I can now say no truer words were ever spoken about parenthood. The days ARE long and some days are certainly harder than others. But amid all of the tantrums and the chaos and the interrupted conversations and the spilled drinks and the potty accidents and the sleepless nights, there are moments of pure joy. In fact, I set an intention every year and my intention this year is to find the joy and to mentally capture those glimpses of joy with “joy snapshots”.
Before my wedding a colleague gave me good advice---he said he was told at his wedding to take a step back and just observe the night and take a mental picture of all that was going on to savor the moment and take it all in. Recently I have decided to apply this process to motherhood.
So as I sit here writing this with a Pinkalicious sticker on my forehead and a unicorn headband on my head, I am freezing time to just observe. I see my baby exploring his box of soft toys--sitting up, making noise, looking back at my daughter and me for approval of his actions-- crawling and moving. I take in his warm, soft footie pajamas, his soft curls on the back of his neck. I don’t think about the laundry I need to do for this moment--it will be there later--I promise. I don’t think about all the meal prep or the routine for tomorrow. I just take a joy snapshot. It doesn’t take long but its value will go a long way. “You never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory”. Because the years are so short I want to compound these moments in my memory. I want them to live there so when I am that old granny in the grocery store looking at the young mom wrangling up her small ones and I see that look of dread on her face and know that her thoughts resemble ones that I have had before how am I going to get through the day? I will remember. And I may feel some twinge of sadness that my season is over and my babies are all grown-- but that is when I can call up my bank of joy snapshots. And it will give me hope that I didn’t just survive motherhood but there are moments when I actually enJOYed it. Moments that I truly cherished and savored and saved for occasions just as these.
Another joy snapshot from today (that mind you--was sandwiched between a screaming 8 month old and a 4 year old whiny tantrum about hunger) was watching my daughter dance to Dave Matthew’s You and Me Together around our living room with my husband. I felt the pure joy of being present. I was tapped into the moment. Taking in her sweet 4 year old voice and dramatic Dance with the Stars inspired dance moves, I stopped and remembered to remember that these are the moments that I want to remember all my life.
Yesterday’s joy snapshot came on a day when I was feeling particularly done. I had hit my patience level with the cleaning and the clutter and the preparing meals and the whining. And just I was caught up in my feelings of doneness, I turned the corner to see a glimpse of pure joy--on my son’s face as he watched his big sister “read” to him and then came the sound of collective laughter. I never could have imagined two kids with so many months apart could find so much joy in each other’s company. The gift of being siblings makes a beautiful joy snapshot and one that I want to store in my bank forever.
I have been intentional with the idea of not giving into destination preoccupation these days. I want to get out of the “when I get there” mindset. Because the truth is we are never going to get “there”. Because when we do, we will want to go somewhere else. That’s human nature and therefore the joy is in the journey. The magic is in the mayhem. We have to choose joy--even if it’s in a glimpse sandwiched between chaos. Those glimpses of joy is what life is really all about.
These joy snapshots aren’t meant to paint a naive picture of motherhood as one of all rainbows and sunshine--any mother knows that is not the case. But they are meant to help combat and cope with those challenging times by reminding us what’s important. I listened to a podcast recently where they talked about the acronym WIN--What’s Important Now. The podcast was referring to prioritizing and building an entrepreneurial empire--but my takeaway was I could apply this theory to motherhood. Focusing on what’s important now helps you prioritize your time and put things into perspective. It helps you stay present which is honestly where our true power and true capacity for joy lies. And our littles they can’t help but live presently so we can follow their lead and as always, learn from our greatest teachers. Let’s all commit to taking their invitation to live presently and find the joy.
So my challenge to myself and any other mama who wants in is to take at least one joy snapshot a day. Glimpse the kairos moments. Fall in love with your life. Look for the WINs. Remember that this is fun and there is great beauty here--alongside the mess and the stress and the chaos. Not every second will be magic and that’s what makes those joy snapshots magical. They are the rainbows amid the rain and the golden unicorn that we are all chasing on our motherhood journeys. This season here is my wish: may your joy snapshot highlights reel be better than your Instagram feed--because this is the memory bank that will last all your life. Happy savoring mamas!