Making Memories in Your Motherly Vocation

I peered into the long, dimly lit hallway of a local chapel, unsure of what to expect. I came empty-handed, then realized I probably should have asked what to bring. It was my first time attending a homeschooling curriculum share for our regional cooperative I had recently joined. 

As I neared the doorway of a room filled with women chattering and laughing, fear arose in my heart. And all the ugly thoughts decided to have a party in my mind at that moment.

“Why are you even here? You don’t use a homeschooling curriculum.”

“You’re such a hack. All you do is let your daughter learn from a bunch of books you briefly skim each summer.”

“Your kids aren’t even learning anything. How can you be sure they’re going to get into college?”

I swallowed hard but had made a commitment to show up, and indeed, I am a woman of my word. Even when it’s hard, I don’t back out of a promise without very good reason.

I knew the women who had started the co-op a little over a year ago, so I sighed, smiled, and squared my shoulders as I approached them with friendly greetings and waves. My nervousness was evident. The veteran homeschooling guru of our city approached me and I commented on her glasses, which I thought were striking. She thanked me, then sorted some books on a table near the seat I’d chosen.

Finally, I started talking. I shared my heart, my fears, my skepticism over my ability to continue homeschooling—it all poured out without warning. One woman, about a decade my senior, offered a smile that only experience can demonstrate, and she placed one hand on my shoulder. “When I was your age, surrounded by littles, I used to tell myself on days when no formal academics were accomplished, ‘We’re making memories today.’”

We’re making memories.

An image flashed in my mind of a moment only days before when my toddler sons ran around in the backyard with a babysitter as she blew bubbles in the air for them to pop. My almost-preschooler rode her “big girl bike” in circles in the driveway, and my oldest sat on the porch swing reading her American Girl books.

Sometimes memories are made without prior planning. Often, the best ones are spontaneous. For moms like me who need evidence of achievement or the ability to track progress, this is hard news. Spontaneity is a phenomenon we gradually lean into and allow ourselves to enjoy.

I realized all the reasons I’d chosen homeschooling years ago—the flexibility, the ease with which to tweak programs that suit children’s abilities and developmental age, ways in which we could learn about life by cooking together and visiting the zoo and even taking a day off to engage in right recreation.

Children don’t look back on their lives as adults and recall the rigors of a formal education. Well, some do, but most don’t. Most will say with a twinge of nostalgia that they were grateful for the times mom and dad spent dancing to techno or running through the sprinkler or building a bonfire. It’s these moments when we intentionally make memories that suddenly everything that matters comes alive.

Modern moms are filled with a flurry of anxiety over myriad thoughts, most of which render us with a sense of inadequacy—that we’re not getting “it” right or “doing enough.” The problem is that we forget about those moments that just organically fall into place, the conversations with a child who has a million philosophical questions and the giggles with a toddler over a silly word like “dot dog” for hot dog.

I’m not naturally inclined to surrender to the moment. In fact, it’s a conscious decision to which I return multiple times in a day. But the fragments of time I know are never going to be mine again ground me in the reality that life is a flicker on the continuum of eternity. I live with the stark understanding that we are not promised anything, really, so why not allow the Holy Spirit to move in His time and in His ways?

Today I think of the verse that loosely translates into so far above your ways are my ways, so far above your thoughts are my thoughts from Isaiah 55:8-9. Instead of giving fear a prominent place in the way I see motherhood, I’m going to try to tell myself when things go awry—as they most certainly will—“We’re making memories today.”

By

Jeannie Ewing is a Catholic spirituality writer who writes about the moving through grief, the value of redemptive suffering, and how to wait for God’s timing fruitfully. Her books include Navigating Deep Waters, From Grief to Grace , A Sea Without A Shore For Those Who Grieve, and Waiting with Purpose. She is a frequent guest on Catholic radio and contributes to several online and print Catholic periodicals. Jeannie, her husband, and their three daughters (plus one baby boy) live in northern Indiana. For more information, please visit her website jeannieewing.com.  Follow Jeannie on social media:  Facebook | LinkedIn |Instagram

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