Today’s guest post comes from my friend Lisa Littlewood. I met Lisa at the very first writer’s conference I ever attended. (She even makes an appearance in my upcoming book!) Lisa is a freelance writer and blogger who lives in Lancaster, N.Y. (just outside of Buffalo) with her husband and their two (soon to be three!) daughters. Prior to having children she worked in textbook publishing and then spent a year and a half as a high school English teacher at a small Christian school in Central, MA. Today she spends most of her time refereeing arguments over the proper ownership of headbands and princess dresses and washing large piles of pink clothing.
Seize the Moments…Even the Tired Ones
The later it got in the day and the more tired my momma mind grew the larger the question loomed, “Should I go or just stay home? Maybe I should just stay and finish the laundry? It might be easier.”
The girls were due to go to bed in an hour and a half and then I could sink into the couch with a book or turn the television on for a few moments. I was tired and the kitchen was a mess. I hadn’t talked to my husband for more than a few strained minutes over dinner, a dinner at which the girls seemed to be particularly irritable and ungrateful for everything imaginable, their food (that I had cooked!) included. Ever have one of those nights?!
Changing out of the tattered hooded sweatshirt and yoga pants (that were SO incredibly comfortable 16 weeks into my third pregnancy!), driving 20 minutes in the cold (we live in Buffalo after all!) and then, gasp, making conversation with a group of women, some of whom I did not know very well, all sounded like it required so much…effort!
Was it worth it?
A game night had been planned as an extra opportunity for our MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group to get to know each other better. It was a chance to simply get out and away from the responsibilities of the house and kids. It was a chance to eat and laugh together: a chance to form deeper community.
And those are all good things. Very good things. It seems rare these days that I go out to do anything but shop from groceries or run necessary errands in the evenings. Not to mention that I did want to engage and connect with the women more deeply. Truly, I did.
I was just…tired.
So there I stood, rinsing dishes and weighing my options.
In the end I decided to go. I had sent a Facebook RSVP and in part felt I should honor my commitment.
As I drove the 20 minutes across towns from my house to that of the hostess I felt my spirit lightening and my mood changing. Apparently I simply needed to just force myself out of the house and out from under the influence of stacked dishes and beckoning laundry piles.
Everything I loved about these women was reaffirmed within minutes of walking into that house. These are not competitive, need to keep up with the Joneses, size 2, perfectly dressed ladies offering superficial and caddy conversation at best. They are a group of down to earth, God loving, family focused, real women in real jeans and sweatshirts and leggings and ponytails. I LOVE that. I NEED that in my life.
Truly, it is what I love most about my MOPS group and why it has served as one of the most crucial pieces of my motherhood community in the last three years (since moving back to the Buffalo area). The women are real women, with real struggles and day-to- day challenges. When I show up for a meeting on Thursday mornings, even if I haven’t had the chance to have a conversation with one of those women in the last two weeks I exhale a deep breath and finally feel…normal.
That is the beauty of a group like MOPS, or any of the other wonderful groups geared towards moms with young children, no matter how disorganized, chaotic and unpredictable your morning, or week or month has been, chances are that someone sitting within arms length of you can empathize deeply and perhaps has even had the same experience that morning. Everything from potty training foibles to lamenting the continuous disarray of toys and stuff in our houses is normal conversation.
I confess, I often need a reminder that this season of life is normal and that I’m not alone in my experience.
By the time I drove home that evening I was full—my belly and my heart! We had laughed big belly laughs while trying to maneuver through a complicated “couch” game suggested by one of our spunky mentor moms and learned more about one another while our guards and pretenses were down in the process.
I was also reminded that things that are worthwhile typically require effort – our marriages, parenting, spiritual development and yes, deeper friendships with women in our mom circles— but that the effort is most often worthwhile.
I made a mental note about the next time such a situation presented itself— the next time I’m tired and it’s been a long day and it sounds easier to just stay home, I will remind myself that the mess will still be there tomorrow (and the next day, and the next!), but this season of life will pass and the opportunity to get to know some of these women on a deeper level may pass with it.