Capturing the fleeting moments of joy

Mom bloggers sometimes get a bad rap. I’ve heard it said more than once that they make their homes and family life look better than they really are by editing, enhancing and choosing to write only about the shiny, happy moments.

I’ll admit that I thought the same thing when I first encountered what has now become an online phenomenon, but then I started a blog of my own and quickly came to a very different conclusion.

Of course, every blogger has their own agenda, and I’m sure there are those out there who (whether intentionally or not) create an online version of their life which could be considered “fake,” but I am now of the opinion that this process of editing and posting highlights from my own family’s life is nothing more than a exercise in focusing on the things that matter most as well as practicing gratitude — something desperately needed in this world of distractions and pessimism.

And what’s so wrong with that? Who wants to be lost in the details of the mundane or hyper-focused on the annoying, frustrating and downright depressing that creeps into everyday family life? Where’s the joy in that?

Yes, the process of blogging has taught me not just how to edit the pictures and words that show up on my blog, but more importantly, how to edit what I see and experience in my daily life as a mother. (And learning how to edit my wants-to-be pessimistic brain is a very good thing.)

I’ve also learned that while there is undeniable value in trying to freeze and capture the fleeting moments of joy and beauty that permeate motherhood, there is also great value in recording the not-so-glamorous moments as well. (“Keeping it real” as they say.) When I do, those things that were once hard and even miserable become equally meaningful in our family’s story and can even be transformed into funny family memories. (Hence, my blog tagline, “Chronicling the craziness, so I will laugh instead of cry.”)

But this post isn’t really about promoting my personal blog (I’m pretty sure my mom is my only long time reader) or even blogging in general. I just want to promote The Power of Moments. And the good news is, you don’t have to photograph, video tape or even write down the little snippets of family life in order to reap the benefits of being in the moment. (Though I would contend that your ability to appreciate and remember them later will increase tenfold if you do.) Whatever you feel about deliberate record keeping, it’s really just important for mothers to learn how to occasionally get off their hamster wheel and stop. Stop and see. Stop and feel. Stop and engage with their loved ones.

Finding myself in the thick of Christmas craziness last week (I wrote about it in my last post), I wanted desperately to slow down and savor the moments with my growing-too-fast children. And while my life and schedule weren’t any less complicated this week, simply making that mental decision in anticipation of this post made all the difference.

Here’s what I was able to see and enjoy as a result:

My 11-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter laughing hysterically together over a Google search about toe jam.

My son in his flour-covered sweatshirt with a Santa hat on while making pancakes all by himself on a Sunday morning. (Turned out he mistakenly used powdered sugar for flour! Those were some sweet pancakes. Not complaining.)

My two youngest daughters giggling and playing hide-and-seek with our new puppy under my bed covers.

My elementary age children canvassing the house trying to solve the mystery of who ate the gingerbread house, complete with magnifying class and interrogations.

My teenage daughter borrowing my sweater because she dropped her mascara wand on her shirt right before school. (Not necessarily a “happy” thing, but it just struck me that I have a teenage daughter who wears mascara and borrows my clothes! When did that happen?)

My son and daughter tickling each other’s backs through a long church service.

My 5-year-old daughter suddenly appearing in my face, eyes wide, fairy wings on, and earnestly whispering, “I’m half butterfly, half human.”

Watching my children run off with their friends when I drop them off at school, and realizing they aren’t 100 percent mine.

My youngest daughter insisting on exchanging “hand kisses” followed by the “I love you” sign before dropping her off at pre-school. (Just like in the book, “The Kissing Hand.”)

And the funny and sweet things that my kids say! Like the other morning when I told my son I was going to make more popcorn and he said, “The more the merrier” to which his little sister responded, “I’m going to marry Yuki!” (Our new puppy.)

But the absolute best  — THE BEST — moment of the week came when I was snuggling my two youngest daughters before bed. As I got up to leave, I told them both I loved them. My 5-year-old responded in kind, so I couldn’t resist saying, “I love you more” to which she replied, “I love you the most because you’re my whole world.” (Sniffing and leaking all over again.)

Even with the widespread use of phone cameras, digital cameras, video cameras, online scrapbook programs, and yes, blogs, all mothers are painfully aware that there really is no way to stop Father Time let alone capture every little tone of voice, facial expression, funny thing said, or sweet and touching spontaneous moment. It’s impossible! All any of us can really do is stop when the moments come, soak them in, and hope that those feelings of joy, gratitude and wonder will sink down deep inside of us, maybe to some sort of emotional reservoir that can serve us both now as well as later.

So my challenge for all of us over these next few weeks is to make that deliberate effort to stop and savor those memorable moments with our families when they come because more often than not the very best moments (like the one at bedtime with my daughter) aren’t planned or anticipated, and they don’t need any editing or enhancing. They just need our attention.

I wouldn’t normally share something like this here because of the slightly religious context, but the universal application of this video is just too good not to. I share it with the hope that it will the catalyst so many of us need to stop and experience The Power of Moments with our families this holiday season as well as every day of the year.

QUESTION: What were some of your favorite mom moments of the past week?

CHALLENGE: Make a mental effort to stop and savor the moments with your growing family this holiday season. And if you aren’t in the habit, now might be a good time to even do some deliberate record keeping.

2 comments

  1. mom of 3

    I can be such a task oriented stick in the mud. Thank you for reminding me that I need to love my children and not be so annoyed with the little things they do. I need to record them better as well.

  2. Pamela Smith

    Just had to post this Facebook message put up this past week by a young dad I know, who has a 2-yr-old and a 2-mo-old: “its only 9 in the morning and it’s already one of the best days of my life. played basketball from about 6 till 8, came home and got Alex outta bed and we took a shower, then, after getting dressed, we went down stairs and I made pancakes for Alex while I held Charlie in a front to back baby carrier. Charlie just stated up at me while I made pancakes and fed Alex, Alex just kept saying thank you, and I love you.”

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