In the final months of 2018, I found myself in a church pew watching a dear friend mourn the loss of a parent, twice. While these moments served as stark reminders of a new phase of life I have entered, they also provided me with a unique opportunity to be still. As I listened to loved ones eulogize the fathers my friends lost, my brain slowed down, my heart got quiet, and I truly sat still.
It’s not something mothers know well. We run constantly, while a CNN ticker’s worth of thoughts simultaneously race through our brains. We wipe noses and bottoms, keep schedules, make lists, and juggle our uniquely complex role as moms. But, while attending two very different funerals, what struck me was the consistency of one common theme. Not once did anyone mention how well my friends’ fathers managed their to-do’s, or how many hours they spent working at the office. These men were remembered for the types of human beings they were and how they made those around them feel.
And, I couldn’t help but ask myself: What really matters?
I love a recent blog post that went viral following former president George H.W. Bush’s funeral. In recapping George W.’s eulogy of his father, writer Karen Culbertson said this:
“In the eulogy, George W. didn’t mention once that his parents made sure he had organic food his whole life, or had Pinterest worthy birthday parties, or the perfect monogrammed matching outfits with his siblings. He didn’t mention that his parents made sure their week was planned with playdates and millions of extracurricular activities. He reflected over and over again about how much his dad loved and was dedicated to his mother.”
Culbertson’s resounding conclusion: “Don’t make the minor stuff the major stuff.”
If I’m being honest, I often give inconsequential things prime real estate in my heart. Sometimes getting dinner on the table seems more important than looking my middle school daughter in the eye when she wants to tell me about her day. But, there is no universe in which a full calendar, a clean house, or the procurement of a “perfect” Instagram feed is major. Not one of these things fills the hearts of my husband and children. None make me a good friend or provide a lasting impact on anyone’s life.
Yet, when I’m moving full speed ahead, it’s far too easy for this truth to get lost.
Is it really possible to create stillness in the midst of mommyhood? When we’re in the thick of it, can we stick our heads up above the water long enough to walk through our day-to-day with intention? I think so. But, I also know it takes work. For me, it means swallowing a dose of perspective when I feel like I’m drowning in my checklist. I must also set parameters on what distracts me: my calendar, my phone, my insecurities, and fears. And, I must always remember even “good” things can get in the way of the most important things.
What I want people to remember about me is that I was a wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend who was present, engaged and an example of love to those around her.
My hope for myself and all of you mamas out there this upcoming year? Let’s all take a moment to be still. And, please, I do not mean in the middle of a funeral service. Let’s do our best to find stillness right in the midst of our busy, crazy days. The truth is: If we focus on what’s major, we may actually find freedom in leaving the rest far behind.
What’s your best strategy for maintaining perspective in the midst of your busy mom life? We’d love to hear!