The Art of Appreciation

The other day, I left Mark sitting in his little chair in front of the couch and walked into the kitchen to throw something away. When I turned around, he was sitting on the couch. We officially have a climber!

As he proudly sat there with a huge grin on his face, I couldn’t help but wonder where my baby went. That toothy grin looked more like it belonged to a little boy than the seven pound thirteen ounce baby that I held for the first time sixteen months ago. Time has certainly gone by more quickly than I could have ever imagined.

 

There are definitely long days in which I fall asleep at night silently praying that the teething phase will end soon or that Mark will just stop pulling every-single-thing out of the closet when I am trying to cook dinner. However, deep down I know that some day I will wish for these moments back.

Why is it that we spend our whole lives eager to reach the next phase?

In high school, I remember being impatient as I counted down the days to the freedom of college. However, once I got there, I would have given anything for my mom’s home-cooked dinners each evening.

In college, I was excited and eager to finally teach full time rather than worry about final exams and papers. However, once I got my first job and was finally teaching, I wished desperately for all of the free time that I once enjoyed in college.

During my pregnancy with Isabelle, I was ridiculously swollen and developed Carpal Tunnel. These symptoms, coupled with the typically pregnancy challenges, left me exhausted and frustrated on a daily basis. Now I would give almost anything for just another moment with my daughter.

When will I learn my lesson? How does one learn to truly appreciate the challenges of each phase of life?

It certainly would be easier to simply push the fast forward button. (See Adam Sandler’s 2006 movie “Click”) However, one of these days I am going to have to figure out how to appreciate all of those challenges since they are clearly inevitable.

With Lent starting tomorrow, I can’t help but wishfully gaze at April 16 on my calendar praying for Easter to arrive quickly. My motives are quite selfish and center on a strong desire to indulge in the sweets and junk food that I will be giving up this year. But Lent is a great time to set goals and turn your focus to God while offering up all of those challenges.

In addition to giving up sweets and junk food, this year during Lent I am going to:

1.) Learn to appreciate the challenges of motherhood.

*The following paragraph contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase using these links, I do receive compensation from Amazon.  Thank you. :-)

I plan to use Darlene Schacht’s Quieting Your Heart: 6-Month Bible-Study Journal to record one aspect of motherhood each day that brings me joy. I purchased this wonderful journal last year and was great about using it daily until the holidays got me a bit off track. The journal can really be used for any spiritual reading and is a great tool for daily prayer. Darlene Schacht also has a Quieting Your Heart : Gratitude Journal and a Quieting Your Heart: 30-Day Prayer Journal – Love Edition.  Did I mention that they are super girly and fun looking?

My hope is that seeking joy in both the demanding and the seemingly mundane tasks that often come hand-in-land with motherhood will help me to better appreciate this phase of life. After all, Mark will only be 1 once! I also hope that using the book will help keep me accountable. I often find that having something concrete in which to record my progress helps me tremendously when I set goals.

2.) Learn to appreciate the challenge of Lent.

Most of us aren’t thrilled at the prospect of giving something that we love up for 40 days. I know that each time I see something sweet, I have to make the choice to not eat it. I have a serious sweet tooth, so I can already hear myself saying, “I hate this! I really want to eat that ice cream!” In order to really appreciate the journey, I am going to train myself to instead offer up that decision to not eat the ice cream for a specific person. I hope that this will over time change my over-all attitude about Lent.

This Lent I am hoping to master the art of appreciation. I suspect this is going to be an odyssey that lasts a lifetime, but you have to start somewhere.

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