I actively seek out quietude. Calmness. Even solitude on occasion.
Let's get real for a moment: I have three wonderful, rambunctious children. They often squabble and sometimes outright fight. They leave donut socks under their beds and Legos underfoot. They have scribbled on microfiber couches, walls, and each other. They have worn more holes into jeans than I dare count. They have used their fingernails as weapons, dropped iPods into steaming coffee cups, used their words to wound and cried many tears over decisions "mean mommy" has made. They have defied and loved me. Hugged and kissed me. And looked to me for help, guidance and sometimes rolled their eyes at me.
So, if I were really honest, I'd have to say that I crave solitude more than just occasionally. Right about lunchtime, I find myself wanting to zip out of the room for 15 or 20 minutes just to get away from the noise. They are great kids. They aren't particularly naughty or precocious, they are just lively, active and well, loud.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.
But sometimes I need those 20 minutes to regroup, refocus and reaffirm why I love being a mom.
Recently, I read this blog post and it hit me like a ton of bricks. A mom was given a jar of 936 pennies. Each penny represented a week that she had with her child until they were (presumably) going away to college. At the same time each week, she would remove a penny, effectively reminding her that how she spent her days, her words, her actions and emotions on her children, affected them. It is so very important to be mindful of how those pennies are spent.
Some of us will have fewer weeks. Tragedy occurs, choices are made that we have no control over or life throws us a curve ball. We suddenly find that our penny supply is significantly diminished. Whether we have 932 weeks with our child or fewer, the image is powerful.
Am I willing to relinquish a penny for a moment's worth of peace? Am I spending their pennies on constantly removing myself from the noise? Do I distance myself emotionally because my children have made choices that cannot be reconciled with who I dreamed for them to be? Are my child's pennies being spent on my harsh words and frustration?
Here is what I do know: Tomorrow and each day, I will do my very best to show kindness and give grace. I will extend mercy while I try to teach my children a gentler way to live. I will make sweet memories that will reverberate for a very long time. And I will teach them to love like Jesus loves.
This is a massive undertaking -- quite a daunting task for one who's nature tends to be unyielding. It gets easier though when I remember what an utterly unselfish act of love God has shown me. He gave His Son so that I can learn to love the same way. So much mercy demands that I return that mercy and love to others.
Starting with my rambunctious, enthusiastically noisy children.
And that makes me very joyful,