Have you ever walked out your door and suddenly realized that your lawn has gotten much too tall and definitely needs to be cut? It’s the slow, almost imperceptible growth that is hardest to catch. You don’t notice your hair growing until one day it seems to be in your eyes. Your children seem the same size until suddenly their pants are too short, or you look at old pictures, or someone else comments on how big they are getting.
Motherhood is full of slow, almost imperceptible growth. The challenge with slow growth is noticing it and recognizing it. Sometimes I feel down about how I am failing as a mom. How I’m not measuring up to these grand ideas of the “perfect mom” that I want to be. Maybe you’ve felt that way before, too. I don’t always notice the small growth in myself and my children as we develop in life and in our relationships with one another.
Slow down and look for growth
I have found that if I take the time to slow down and look for the growth, I can find it. The child who says “Thank you” unprompted! When your kids put their belongings where they are supposed to go the first time, without being asked! Little arms reaching around your neck telling you they love you. These are the golden moments of growth that I want to recognize and remember.
Recently my 7-year-old planned a special breakfast for the whole family. She wrote out an instruction sheet for me of all that she was planning to do, got out the fancy dishes, and cooked some scrambled eggs with her Dad. As we sat down to eat together I wondered, “When did this little girl get so big?” To see her thinking about others and contributing to our family made my heart happy. Little by little, she is growing and learning.
Keep a record
Writing things down also helps so that I can look back on the past and see the growth. I get a kick out of reading my experiences from when my oldest was a baby. Some of the challenges I thought were so hard then seem easy now. If only I had known that exercising with one baby really isn’t so hard! Especially when compared to having multiple small children at home and trying to fit in a workout. Thank goodness for the Ann Arbor YMCA and its Child Watch. I wonder what I will think about myself in 20 years when I look back on this stage of my life? Hopefully I will be able to see real growth.
I hope I can see, now and in the future, that all of the love, tears, time, and effort I put into mothering is worth it. Not only are these little humans growing, but each day I am growing as well.