“You won’t regret this time,” my mom said to me. I was struggling with a big life decision – leaving a full-time, made-for-me position at Georgetown University. Why? I knew it driving up and down 270 to DC, waking up at 5 a.m., rushing, arriving home exhausted that:
– I didn’t want to miss “this” – “this” being around my family
– I wanted to have the spaciousness to really be able to SEE my children
– I wanted to have the energy I knew I needed to be truly present
And though I am strong, resourceful, organized, a “make-it-happen” kind of girl, and a great problem-solver – I couldn’t make this happen.
That was two years ago. I knew the truth within me that I needed to follow: this is the season of motherhood of being right here.
And that meant being physically present and having the energy to actually BE here. It just took awhile – and a lot of discerning – to honor that season.
So I handed in my resignation letter.
Now, two years later, do I regret it?
My youngest child is going into kindergarten this fall. And lately I have been sitting back and reflecting:
– Have I been present?
– Have I loved fully?
I’m over perfection. I’m over measuring myself using anyone else’s standards. I’m over this whole “mother guilt” that seems to be running rabid in our current cultural context of mothering. When I look back over the eight years I have been a parent, this is what I see:
– I have savored moments.
I’m not talking about every single moment. I’m not talking about “not yelling” or “not losing it.” I’m talking about this: I have savored moments of connecting, moments of being right here, moments of noticing the sacred in our everyday life, moments of slowing down, moments of beauty, moments of holding my babies.
– I have honored this season of motherhood calling me to “be right here.”
Perfectly? What in the heck would be “perfectly?!” I say I’ve honored this season of motherhood because I followed the call within me – the truth within me – that I knew I needed to follow.
Shawn Fink, founder of the Abundant Mama Project, in her book, “Savoring Slow,” eloquently writes about savoring moments of connection and honoring the season of motherhood we are in. This means recognizing that nothing lasts forever and these moments – the challenges and the joys – pass.
I believe the opportunity we have in whatever season of motherhood we find ourselves in to honor it and savor it. Not with the pressure to “do it perfectly.” And not by neglecting ourselves as mothers.
You honor this season of motherhood by listening deeply and following the call of your heart.
You savor this season of motherhood by giving yourself the spaciousness to really SEE the beauty right here.
I am finding that there is no greater path to delight, to living without regrets, in mothering than to honor the call of your heart in the season of motherhood you find yourself in right now.
Over the last two years, I have watched other women make huge strides professionally. I have seen neighbors move into bigger houses. I have viewed the pictures of friends going to Disney – multiple times – and other awesome vacations.
My kiddos wear hand-me-downs. We’ve stayed in the same cozy, light-filled home for ten years. I said “no” to some big opportunities. I haven’t published the books that are on my heart. I am not CEO of a big nonprofit.
But…the people I have been called to tend to and serve – in coaching, in therapy, in the programs I facilitate now part-time at Georgetown, in our community, in our church, in our children’s school and in our home – I have truly been present to them. For me, that would not have been the case had I continued to rush down 270 and work full-time. I have lingered and created spaciousness to truly BE with whoever is in my care. And that presence is possible precisely because I do not have a jam-packed schedule.
I have savored moments of connection. When I drop off my kiddos in the morning for school – no matter how chaotic the morning has been, no matter if we yelled or lost it or hurried out the door – I always, always create the spaciousness for a few moments of connecting before they walk into the building. When I pick up my kiddos – no matter the clock ticking until the next activity – I hug them and really look at them. I mean really look at them and smile. And at night, I always hug them and linger with them.
So do I regret leaving my full-time position at Georgetown University?
No. I don’t. My mom was right.
I have honored the season of motherhood I have found myself in and I’ve savored moments of connection.
The other day, I savored an hour and a half of having a dear friend over my house while the kiddos were at camp — at what she said made me see even more clearly how I do not regret any choice I’ve made in mothering. Suzanne and I met when our boys were one. We have seen each other through many stages, ups and downs, of parenting. As she sat in my kitchen, Suzanne said to me about my son:
“Lisa, I want to tell you that I saw A. (my son) at *Sam’s birthday party. When Sam was having a tough moment, A. gently put his hand on Sam’s back. It made me think of you and your sense of deep compassion. Lisa, your compassion is weaved within him. And then I really stepped back and looked at A. And that’s when I saw Brian (my husband) in him. There is this inner quiet, a deep confidence to A. I see the boy and man A. is growing into. And he has both your compassion and Brian’s inner fortitude of quiet.”
I teared up. Yes, I can see it, too. We both talked about how much we wondered and struggled and intentionally were about shaping our first born children – and at the time, we couldn’t see whether what we were doing was “good” or “right” or having any positive impact.
And now, I can see how the choices I have made to honor and savor whatever season of motherhood I am in has beared much fruit.
And so, when my daughter enters kindergarten in the fall and enters a new season in her development, I, too, will be entering into a new season of motherhood. I don’t know how it will look. I only know that I will honor the season of motherhood by looking deeply, sitting and noticing, discerning, and then following the call within me. And I will savor the moments of connecting that this new season offers.
Dear Readers, I know each of you is in your own season of motherhood. And I know you feel a call within you, unique to this very season of motherhood you find yourself in right now. Stay close to that call. Keep listening. Keep honoring that call to honor the season of motherhood you find yourself in right now. I can tell you that you will not regret it. There are choices we make and trade-offs with every choice. Look at the trade-offs you can live with – the ones you won’t regret giving up when you are lying on your deathbed. I’m serious. Get THAT serious.
Shawn offers lovely, straight-forward ideas for honoring and savoring this season of motherhood in her book, Savoring Slow.
I am currently a part of Shawn’s 20 day book tour. You can read from other moms how they are savoring slow here:
(*Update: June, 2016: Three years ago I left my position at Georgetown University not knowing what would come of the future. I can tell you that once I said “yes” to my heart and body to honor what I knew to be true, opportunities opened that I couldn’t have imagined. I am now a consultant with Georgetown University, I write every day, I created what I call Compassion Coaching and I accompany people every day in their own journey of following what delights their hearts. My mom was right – I don’t regret it one bit.)Blessings,