Editor's note: This article was originally published on Power of Moms. It has been used here with permission.
You can't force a moment. I know this but sometimes I still try.
One day recently, there were lots of not-so-good moments. The kids were cranky and needy and I worked hard all day but didn't feel like I got much done. We were late to everything because of domino effects of dumb little things that kept happening — misplaced shoes and homework, spending way too long trying to find poster board at Target, one thing after another. I ended up snapping at the kids quite a bit and not feeling like the mom I want to be at all.
But this day could be saved! I helped the kids hurry along with homework and dishes with the promise of Christmas decorating accompanied by Christmas music and a treat. I envisioned that I'd pull out each decoration and tell the story of where it came from and what it meant to our family. They'd all be enthralled and excited to follow directions about where each item should go. I was sure we were in for some beautiful moments to end the day on a lovely note.
As I helped one child finish the last of his homework, another one started pulling out all the tree ornaments when we don't have a tree yet and while I was trying to explain why that stuff needed to be left alone for now, another child was so excited to show me his favorite Christmas books as he pulled them out of a box like long-lost friends. Then there was another child saying "be quiet" and making snappish and callous comments as he tried to do the last of his homework while one of his siblings put on holiday music and another wanted to show him some exciting stuff (darn, I heard myself in a few of those snappish comments!).
Everyone was wanting and needing my attention at once, everyone was frustrated with each other, and decorations were being pulled out and put in random places all over. The control-freak in me was feeling pretty threatened and the vision I had in my mind wasn't happening — at all.
So I dropped the whole decorating idea and just plopped down on the couch, feeling defeated. Quickly, I was joined by my 6-year-old twins, books in hand, gleam in their eyes. They snuggled up on either side of me and placed a book on my lap. The older kids came and sat down too. I'd told them we'd just read one book as it was getting a bit late but we read four books. We just couldn't stop. The kids were creating the beautiful moments I'd craved with their snuggling and cute comments, memories and ideas as we read.
So, I learned (yet again) that the best moments are not planned by the mom. The best moments happen when the mom relaxes and let's the kids bring the moments to her. So much of the joy of moments is stamped out when we get too attached to our own visions of particular joyful moments we're trying to create.
Just be there. Just listen. Just sit there. Just smile. The magic will come – if we let it.
Saren adores her five energetic, adventurous, precocious children but doesn't totally adore the mess and busyness and bickering that that comes with them! She grew up all over the world, did her B.A. at Wellesley College and her M.Ed. at Harvard, did humanitarian service in Eastern Europe, and conducted training programs for teachers and enrichment programs for kids. But after she got married and had her five children, the real education and work began! When she's not trying to answer five different needs and questions at once, she writes and puts together programs for moms for the website she co-directs, Power of Moms. She currently lives in Ogden, Utah and loves reading, hiking, and biking with her family (or by herself when possible!). She often struggles with balance but finds joy in being involved in many things that are meaningful to her.