Time Flies: Parent with an Eye on the Prize

My 21-year old who's serving in Afghanistan, and my (then) 4-month-old triplet. Time flies!

My 21-year old who’s serving in Afghanistan, and my (then) 4-month-old triplet. Time flies!

My triplets turn five in less than a month, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about how fast time flies.

I’m one of those crazy moms who loved getting up in the middle of the night to feed my infants. I loved it so much that for years, long after they actually woke up on their own, I’d get them out of bed in the middle of the night just to cuddle. Granted, all six of my kids slept through the night from 6-8 weeks old, even the preemies. So it wasn’t like I’d been fighting with them for months to get them to stay in bed. They loved their beds and they loved their sleep. So I could just lift them gently and slide into the rocker, hold them for a while, then lay them back down. They rarely actually woke up. In fact I’ve even done it with kids as old as four! In a few weeks, that will probably rise to five.

But by the simple nature of how fast times flies, one of these days it’s gonna be the last time I do that. Oh, we’ve already had lots of “lasts.” The last first day of school. The last diaper change. The last bottle. But one of these days the entire baby stage will be a far distant memory, much more than it is now.

Time goes so fast. 

In Ecclesiastes 3 we’re told that there’s a season for everything. God gives us that overwhelming love we need to parent our infants, even in the middle of the night. He gives us the grace and the wisdom we need to nurture those babies in the way that they are needed at each stage of their development. Then He ushers in the season of school-age children: T-ball, birthday parties, sleepovers, and everything else that comes with the childhood years, including scraped up knees and broken bones.

Next, He holds our hands as He walks us into the teen years. Dating, peer pressure, choices, mood swings, hormones… Thankfully He goes before us and prepares the way with grace and patience. Just imagine if He didn’t.

Next comes the season of letting go. College, moving out, empty-nesting, marriage, grandchildren…it’s an endless cycle of letting go and trusting.

What if we parented through each stage with an eye on the end prize? What if we could look into the future and see that soon we’ll be called to let go? We could make choices as a parent now with our eyes firmly locked on the finish line.

If you envision your grandchildren, might you parent your children differently now? If you envision your kid’s wedding day, maybe you’ll make different parenting choices when it comes to dating. If you imagine the dating years, maybe you’ll make different choices as your young children flirt with early relationships and Facebook statuses.

We have to learn from the people who have gone before us and look ahead to the future. God gave us a beautiful roadmap of guidance towards the decisions parenting requires. It’s up to us now to use that roadmap wisely.

Time goes so fast. Everything has a season. Look ahead to the finish line and set your mind on winning the race.

Much love,
Nicole O’Dell
Choose NOW Ministries
Choose NOW Publishing

Dr. Mom

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Moms wear many hats. We act as chauffeur, maid, tutor, counselor, banker, and sometimes doctor.  In fact, we had a couple of fairly major medical episodes in the O’Dell household this month. They reminded me just how fragile this life is, and how anything can change in a moment.

The most recent, and more minor of the incidents, was when my four-year-old daughter Megan, otherwise known as BatGirl, jumped off the deck. She assumed that, as BatGirl, she could fly. Anyway, Megan jumped off the deck and took a hard landing. She fractured her elbow. So, off to the ER we went. Thankfully, we’re past the hard part, and she’s on the mend.

But a mere six day before that, my 15-year-old daughter Natalie, who has been having dizzy spells for over a year but had passed all the neurological tests and blood tests, went down. We were getting ready to leave for church and something came over her. There we’d been, talking normally and then her eyes narrowed. She gasped for air, and her knees wobbled, then buckled. She went down.

I caught her, and moved her to a chair where I began to fan her face and try to get her to puff her inhaler even though it was clearly not an asthma attack. Beads of sweat dripped down her face and pooled on her upper lip. She struggled to breathe. Then she stopped breathing. Her face, including her lips, turned the color of modeling clay right in front of me.

It was truly the most horrifying moment of my life. And there we’d been, dressed and ready for church. The little ones were already in the car. We were all happy and functioning well (on a Sunday morning, that means no one had been fighting with each oth in the mad rush to make it to church on time). Everything had changed in an instant.

I watched my daughter struggle to breathe and the panic rose in my throat. I prayed silent prayers for peace and wisdom as I tried to remember the CPR rules I’d learned long ago and blew fresh air in her face. My husband dialed 911 and moved furniture and toys out of the way for the paramedics. They arrived quickly, but it was still about 20 minutes before color began to return to her face.

We headed off to the hospital where they determined that everything pointed to a heart arrhythmia or something else that needed the assistance of a cardiologist. On one hand, we’re thrilled to finally have some possible answers to how she’s been feeling, but on the other…

So, why am I telling you this story? I don’t have the ending. I don’t have big miracles or leaps of faith to speak of just yet. But  I want to speak to the role we play as Mom. In caring for those entrusted to us, we don’t have the luxury of a panic attack in the  face of an emergency because our kids need our strength. We don’t get to collapse in our own illness when our kids are sick, because they need us healthy.

God entrusted them to us, and we were given the honor of raising and caring for them, the privilege to give them everything we have. On the other hand we trust Him right back, believing that nothing enters their lives without passing through His awareness first. So whether it’s injury, illness, or tragedy,  we have to arrive at a place of trust, we need to embrace the peace that passes understanding which can only be found in Christ Jesus.

Here’s what Scripture says about trust: 

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3: 5-6
  •  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
  • But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” 
My times are in Your hand. Psalm 31:14-15

The question we must ask ourselves is if we’re able to quiet our hearts long enough to remember that the very God who entrusted us with the care of our children is also worthy of our trust.

I followed behind that ambulance as it raced toward the hospital. Even though I worried and cried even as I willed it to go faster, I trusted that someone who knew far more than me was in control of my daughter’s needs. That’s really a metaphor for parenting as we follow along behind our children, trusting that someone who knows far more than we do is in control of meeting all of their needs.

Blessings,

Nicole O’Dell, nicoleodell.com 

 

Are you a better summer mom?

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Are you a better mom in the winter or the spring? The fall or the summer? I feel like a better mom in the summer. Here’s why:

In the winter, I tend to hide out. I love the cold. I love the snow. But I find it excruciating to search for 47 gloves, socks, scarves, and hats to pile my littles outside when someone will invariably have to go to the bathroom almost immediately. It’s so much easier to stay in and put on a movie…and 10 pounds.

Another reason why I feel like a better mom in the summer is that, while the spring is lovely, rain brings me back to point number one. There’s nothing worse than having to pick up the kids from preschool when it’s pouring rain. Not only do I have to walk a mile to the door to grab them (okay, not a mile, but it feels like it when the rain is beating down) and then back to the car, but then I get to load them into their seats while my backside gets drenched. And this always happens about an hour after I washed my hair and gave it a nice blow out.

Fall is my second favorite, but the hard part about fall is that school has started and we’re easing into the blend of multiple over-full schedules again.

Summer. There’s something freeing about those months. Reduced schedules. No major early-morning requirements. Kids can go from pajamas to bathing suits and back to jammies again with no mommy guilt. In fact, I feel quite proud when they have spent the entire day outside playing, when the TV has stayed cold all day long, and when everyone has sun-kissed cheeks and noses.

But along with the settling of the routine, and the lightning of the load, there can tend to come a misplacement of other priorities. For us, morning devotions are a big priority. This is something I do with my kids, most commonly led by the teenagers, on a daily basis. It will take strict intentionality to make sure the daily devotions continue through the summer months when everyone is waking at different hours and heading in different directions.

Another concern is mealtimes. Do we relax the guidelines and the schedule so much that we let go of things like family dinners or family breakfasts? It takes intentional commitment to those family times to make sure they happen even in the relaxed schedules of the summer.

The third thing is communication. Without the extra time in the car going from place to place and with the lightning are some of the stringent requirements like meals and sporting events and things like that, when do we make up for the lost time for communication? Maybe a month before we’d have spent 40 minutes in a car chatting with the kids on the way to this or that, but now that time is gone.

It all comes back to that intentionality. Plan ahead for the coming summer months. Be intentional about Bible study, meal times, and communication. I guarantee you’ll feel like an even Better Summer Mom!

What are some of the tips you have for really making it work in the summer?

Blessings,

Nicole O’Dell

 

Photo by Ian Kahn, courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Motherhood Through the Years: Same Game Different Name & Better Mom Monday’s Link-Up!

In motherhood, some things don’t exactly change with time, they just begin to look a bit different. I wrote the following portion of a post on my blog back in February of 2010 when my triplets were very young toddlers.

Today is one of those days for me. I like to get up a bit early and write my blog post while I have my coffee. Today, I got up at 2am, though. Yeah, that’s a tad earlier than I like to rise. I was awakened by a screaming toddler. And then another one started in. They had high fevers and were pulling on their ears. I got them up, gave them medicine and fluids and cuddled with them on the couch. Megan slept through it all until about 5am. Then it started all over again.

We’re headed in to the doctor’s office this afternoon.

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My plans for the day had once included:

  • Laundry
  • Cleaning up the kitchen
  • Changing crib sheets
  • Writing 4,000 words
  • Answering emails
  • Did I mention Laundry?
  • A phone call or two
  • Preparing some packages to mail
  • Running to the post office

I’m sure I would have added to that list as the day went on. But…guess how many of those things I managed to accomplish.

ZERO.

But guess what.

I’m doing exactly what God has before me for THIS day. No matter what my plans were, they had nothing to do with His plans for me. It’s a gentle reminder that it’s okay to set goals and make a loose plan as long as we’re ready to shift when He calls.

It occurs to me that not a whole lot has changed since then. I might set my alarm clock for 5:30 or 6:00 am, but usually a triplet or two decides I’m needed before then. I might make plans with a friend to meet for coffee while the kids are at preschool, but invariably that ends up being a snow day and school is cancelled. I might schedule a hair cut or make an eye doctor’s appointment for myself, but that’s a sure way to find myself in the pediatrician’s office with a preschooler, or even a teenager, instead.

I guess that’s what happens when you’re the go-to person for the little people we call our children. It’s not always easy to lay aside our own agendas, and sometimes it can even conjure up feelings of despair when it seems like it will never end. From one stage to the next, the interruptions might look different, but the cost is the same. The sacrifices we’re called to make as moms is the same. We have to step aside and let their needs set the schedule.

In the heat of those moments, trust me, I often feel like throwing my hands up in the air. I wonder why I ever bother agreeing to anything or ever dare to dream for a few moments to myself.

But then…a feverish pair of arms snake around my neck and a child whispers, “I love you, Mommy.”

In that moment I feel equal parts grateful, loved, and blessed, mingled with touches of regret for ever wishing those moments would fade sooner rather than later.

On second thought, coffee with the girls can wait.

Nicole O’Dell, author of 21 books since 2007, founder of Choose NOW Ministries and host of Choose NOW Radio: Parent Talk and Teen Talk, and a national Christian event speaker, is dedicated to speaking messages of hope to women, families, teens, and parents. It’s all about choices!
Photo by Phaitoon, courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.com

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