Have you ever contemplated how it can actually be quite healthy to number your days and pay attention to your seasons of life?
Psalm 90:12 encourages, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
I’ve been trying to learn how to number my days lately. I have a hunch that it’s an unexpected aspect of parenting children who are just starting school.
When my kiddos were babies, days were so long. It seemed like each day in my oldest son’s first year stretched on and on – back when I still counted his age in weeks. It truly was an accomplishment to make it through another week of mothering.
Then the weeks stretched into months, as I began feeling more comfortable with what I was doing. I wasn’t going to break my baby. Breast feeding and changing diapers and getting used to interrupted nights of sleep weren’t as difficult as they once were.
Somehow, those months have stretched into years and I know exactly how quickly time flies from making one homemade birthday cake to the next. It’s fast. My little ones are growing up right before my eyes.
Unbelievably to me, my son starts first grade this fall. First grade.
I remember so much about my first grade year:
- I had a yellow Critter Sitters pencil box and Strawberry Shortcake lunch box.
- I wore a plaid shirt and khaki knickers on the first day of school and can tell you the names of two classmates who cried all morning because they missed their mommies. (I’d share, but I don’t want to embarrass them on Facebook.)
- Gummy worms hit store shelves and were incredibly popular with first graders.
- Silver Spoons and Fame were popular on TV.
- My best friend Traci and I sang “Oh Mickey” on the playground and “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in the school restroom.
- I got to see E.T. in the movie theater two or three times – and I was treated to Reese’s Pieces on the second and third showings.
I only share my freakishly good memory to point out that first grade is a huge part of me. I vividly remember so much of it – not just what I loved, but also how I felt. I remember what made me feel scared and sad and brave.
It’s really, really weird to me to know that my son – my baby who initiated me to motherhood – will be in first grade. It doesn’t matter if he’s homeschooled and not heading off to a full day of public school like I did. What matters is that he’s getting so much older. This September it’s first grade, but I’m going to blink my eyes and he’ll be starting college. I know it.
Adjusting my priorities
Because my children are growing so fast – and suddenly I’m starting to really notice the speed – I know I need to number my days. Just like Erin shared in her Humbled Homemaker post, One Six Down. Two More Sixes to Go, I have twelve years left spent parenting my 6-year-old son at home. A third of his childhood is over. His personality is formed. The next twelve years will be fun and challenging and fast.
For me, numbering my days completely deals with my priorities. If I’m not careful, I can fritter away time with things that are not important right now. In figuring out what season of life I’m in right now – and what comes with this particular season – I’m deciding what my priorities should be.
Just like I’ve embraced seasonal living by eating and dressing according to what the weather’s like, I need to adjust my schedule and priorities according to what season of life I’m in.
While they seemed to last a long time, my four seasons as a student (elementary, middle school, high school and college) all have passed me by. My decade as a single adult is gone. My sweet newlywed years have passed, along with my uncertain but precious time as a mom of newborns, infants and toddlers.
Since I have one time in my life to be the mother of school-age children, I don’t want to waste my opportunities.
As the 19th century preacher John Angell James wrote in his book Female Piety,
“… Woman is not only the mother of the body, but of the character, of her children. To her is first entrusted the instruction of the mind, cultivation of the heart, the formation of the life. Thought, feeling, will, imagination, virtue, religion, or the contrary moral tendencies, all germinate under her fostering influence. ‘The greatest power in the moral world is that which a mother exercises over her young child.’ ”
To be able to effectively instruct my children’s minds, cultivate their hearts and form their lives, I need to be mindful of these privileges. And I need to remember that it takes time – but not in the ways I think it should. My children are watching and learning while we wait in line at the grocery store, when we pass the homeless on the street, when I’m accidentally burning dinner, and when I greet their daddy after work each night.
I love that Sarah Mackenzie’s post Waste Your Time has encouraged me to stop measuring my days by my to-do list and to “waste” my time with my children. I’ve spent summertime evenings lingering over their bedtimes – it’s amazing how much I can learn about my son and daughter by simply cuddling them in their beds and talking. (Six-year-olds LOVE being asked about their favorite things.) The cozy conversations may not happen every night, but more often than before.
Wasting my time well
“Wasting” my time with my children and my husband definitely flies in the face of my daily to-do lists. Yet it’s healthy. And it helps me make the most of this time that I’ve always hoped and wished for. I’ve already noticed how taking extra time together is creating a healthier, stronger family.
By making an effort to say no to busyness, I’m saying yes to relaxed and richer family time. By intentionally slowing down and listening to my husband, son and daughter, I’m able to get to know them better. Impatience and tempers don’t flare as much. All three of them notice when I’m truly engaged in our conversations and relationships.
I may not get as much done. I definitely need more creativity, focus and speed when doing my housework, blogging and other work-from-home jobs. But it’s more than worth it. I’d rather focus on the people most important to me instead of work that will come and go.
To me, it’s been the best way I’m numbering my days and enjoying this season of my life.
How are you learning to number your days? What season of life are you in right now?
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Today I’m linking up with Time Warp Wife.
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