The Most Important Things

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When the time changed last fall, I received a new alarm clock. My two year old daughter who previously woke anytime between 6 and 8 am, began waking at 5 am on the dot. Every. morning.

This had been my normal waking time before Daylight Savings Time. But, although babies had woken me in the night for the previous 13 1/2 years, I had gotten used to the old schedule that allowed me a good hour or two of quiet time to read, journal, and work on writing projects.

I liked have a little waking time before I officially donned my “MOM hat.” I cherish my “alone” time. Sometimes a little too much.

All of a sudden that time was gone. After that first week of her waking consistently at five, I was ready for a meltdown. Mine.

Sunday night I cried to my husband that I was at my breaking point. She wasn’t going to bed earlier. She wasn’t taking longer naps. Yet, she was waking an hour earlier, regardless.

My “on duty” time was draining me. And quite honestly, I didn’t like it. I was worried that I would “lose it.”

My husband pointed out that the reason I would lose my patience would be because I felt that my toddler was in my way. Sleep wasn’t the thing that was at stake. I was getting up at that time before.

My feelings were a result of my not getting to do what I thought was important. He gently reminded me, “She’s your most important thing right now.”

Ah, yes. She is my most important thing right now. And I had lost sight of that.

I’m not generally one who likes being told this kind of stuff. My brave husband ventured forth to tell me the things I needed to hear, probably wondering how I would react.

I slept on it, knowing he was right. And praying that God would help me feel it as well as know it.

I had to laugh the next morning when I heard, “Mama, Mama,” at 5:04 Monday morning.

And resisting the urge to turn on Dora at 5:05, we cuddled, got breakfast, and otherwise enjoyed some Mom and “Almost-Not-a-Baby-Anymore” time.

Time changes. Seasons change. But, my girl is still the most important thing.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens

— Ecclesiastes 3:1

How do YOU remember to focus on the most important things?

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  1. I don’t know how I stumbled across this old post, but I cried. I need this. My 11 month old woke up at 4:45am today. She used to sleep until at 6 or 6:30. She babbled all day long like never before. I think she was excited about her newfound skill saying, “ba ba baba ba ba” and wanted to share it with mommy and with daddy before he left for work. I have been feeling rundown so it was a hard day but she is only weeks away from turning one. The time has flown by. Thank you for the reminder and thank your husband for me, too. He is ministering to other women through his gentle words to you.

    1. I’m so glad you stumbled onto such an old post. 🙂 I’m so glad God used it to encourage you. Hang in there, mama. The days are long, but the years are short.

  2. So timely. Lately I have fiund myself really caught between wishing we’d get through these long toddler/pre-schooler years and realizing how fast they are growing up. Our life was so crazy when my children were really little and I feel so much guilt about those years – not getting to savour the small moments, being an exhausted frazzled mom, losing it, not taking care of myself. Some days it overwhelms me. Then I resolve to do better, be that mom now and to savour each step. Thanks for your blog. It speaks to me so regularly and I appreciate hearing your thoughts.

    1. Oh, I am right there with you. I look at pictures of my kids when they were littler and I just cry. But, the lesson, and what I think is the head’s up from God, is that we still have time. Thank goodness we’re not having these regrets at 70. We’re having them now when we can do something about them.

  3. I just had a baby four weeks ago and searched your site to find this entry. I remembered it from January and wanted to reread it. With an infant, it can be difficult not to wish away these quick stages – when she will sleep through the night, when she won’t spit up every other second, when I will have more time, when my body will look back to normal, etc, etc.

    But like you said, “She is my most important thing right now.” And having two other children, I know how fast these stages go. So I am making a big effort not to wish any of this away. It simply goes by too quick.

    Thank you for your site – your writing and your thoughts are so inspirational and often tell me just what I need to hear.

    1. @Rebecca, congratulations on your new baby! And thank you for such kind encouragement — and the reminder. Bless you!

  4. I’m thinking in a house as busy as yours, your little one needed some alone Momma time, just as much as you…so she found a way 😉 My daughter does the same thing with my husband. He enjoyed the solace of his coffee and breakfast and quiet before heading to work. But our older daughter realized with his new schedule she wasn’t getting as much Daddy time. So she started waking up to have breakfast with him. It is their special time now.

    Enjoy…it is so fleeting.

  5. Thank you! I really needed this today. My daughter’s been cutting down her naps, and I’ve been struggling, as there are things I was used to doing during her nap time that I wasn’t able to get done anymore.

  6. Good word and reminder! And yay for a hubby willing to speak the truth in love. My husband does that for me and it never fails to bless me, even in sometimes it does rub me the wrong way. =)

  7. Thank you! I was starting back-to-an-alarm clock this morning (my baby is 5 weeks old now), and had 2 kids up before my alarm clock even went off! Not how I wanted to start my week. But it is how the Lord wanted me to start it. Nice cuddle time, and the 3-year-old enjoyed cuddling with the baby.

  8. It is so good to know I’m not the only one! That is one of the things I love about this blog. 🙂 God has been teaching me the same lesson the past few weeks. My ‘me’ time is usually during nap time in the afternoon (and I count myself very blessed that my kiddos will all still nap!) but lately my time gets interrupted more often than not. An errand, a visitor, a kiddo that just doesn’t feel like napping…and my response was less than exemplary. Then one day, as I was disciplining & instructing one kiddo who had pitched an all out fit because he didn’t get his way I realized, I had been doing the same thing! I didn’t get what I wanted or what I felt I deserved so I became a grumpy ‘no’ mom. *ouch* We still have our rough days but thanks for this reminder…my kiddos are so very important and there will be plenty of time to read or sit & do nothing when they are grown. 🙂

    (as a footnote I do echo what a few other posters mentioned, ‘me’ time is a good thing & needed regularly but, as with most things, the attitude of our heart is what matters)

  9. This just brought a tear to my eye and also reminded me not to get frustrated with my daughter but to remember she is only like this for a short time and to cherish the time! Thank you for sharing!

  10. I love how you challenge us to see our challenges as blessings. But- if you really do want to get more rest or alone time in the early am you may want to check into Stoplight Clocks. I just bought one for my 3.5 year old. The adult sets the ‘alarm’ setting. No actual alarm goes off, just the light on the stoplight changes from red (meaning NOT time to get up) to green (you CAN get up) after the set time. It has been great for a little man who knows his colors but not how to tell time.

  11. This was very much needed my daughter too has not been sleeping on a schedule so that I could get things done, and I’ve been so frustrated that the house is a mess and I don’t have time for me. She just turned a year old and I know if I turn my back for one minute I’ll miss something important or she’ll be into something. Thanks for the encouragement

  12. I do think that we need to enjoy the “young child season” of our lives. It is fantastic that your husband is able to speak so gently and so wisely.

    Having said this, if you don’t care for yourself, you can’t care for others. Perhaps your husband might be available for the 5:o0 a.m. call a few days a week? Having time alone and time with God recharges us and makes us better parents. Ask for help please.

    1. Thanks for your concern, Christy. Actually, I get lots of mom time throughout the day. My husband wouldn’t have given this counsel if the case were otherwise. He knew it was more about my not getting my way than anything else.

      But, there are many moms who, for whatever reason, don’t have that opportunity to have that time alone. And yours is good advice. Thanks for speaking up!

  13. I know what you mean! My oldest has woken up at 5 or 5:30 for the last six years. I have even gotten so jealous of the moms who talk about there kids sleeping to 7am! Thanks for keeping it real!

  14. I forget, but it’s the little things that remind me. Like when two of my kids are in school and I snuggle with my youngest (2.5 years old) on our bed after I’ve showered and he’s had a bath. He wants me under the blankets with him, and we snuggle with a few books. It slows me down and gets me to pay attention to him.

    I have the same problem as you – I want some “me” time during the day, and not just the 2 hour window at night once they’re in bed!

    It’s so hard, but we do have to remember what’s important – our children.

  15. Wow, thank you so much for this great reminder! It brought tears to my eyes, and humility to my heart!

  16. Thanks for the reminder. So often I feel the same way, “My feelings were a result of my not getting to do what I thought was important.” Posts like this one are why I read your blog!

  17. Loved this. Thank you so much for the reminder.

    I still think, though, that we mommies DO need SOME alone time, to plan, to pray, to think, to study, to unwind . . .maybe you could ask the hubs to watch the kids on Sunday evening so you could get a mini “Mom retreat”?:)

    1. @Lori, absolutely! And quite honestly, I get all the time I want. My husband is very sweet that way. He knew it was more about my not getting my way than anything else. 😉

      But, your advice is good, especially for those moms who aren’t taking a break. Thanks for suggesting that!

  18. I needed to be reminded of this today. My 4 year old has been staying up a little later, and I’ve felt pretty annoyed about it. Last night I stopped, got in the floor with him, and played cars instead of trying to do my normal routine. After about 10 minutes, he was ready for bed, and I had gotten to enjoy a few rare minutes alone with him. My attitude change made all of the difference and when it was finally time for him to go to bed, he didn’t fight it because he had had the time he needed.

  19. You have a wise husband. You are so lucky to wake up an hour early to that sweet face! Your little girl is so cute. I used to wake up early for a similar sweet face, but that was 30 years ago! I would love to do it again! Enjoy your childern because they grow up so fast.
    God bless, Kathy in Illinois

  20. We all get there – it’s so hard to find balance between being the kind of mother you want to be and losing yourself in the process.
    But it does go so very fast . . . time well spent

  21. You are a wise momma!! You chose well. He will bless you as you are poured out on the altar of service to your family. Remember, the drink offering was the only one that was completely “spent” on the altar. Mom’s are asked to walk through seasons that ask for all of our time. It is a season. And the seasons will change. In the meantime, He Is Sufficient and has already supplied the Grace to accomplish what He puts on our list. She is precious!

  22. Thanks for this, Jessica. My little 5-month old girl decided this weekend to start waking up at 5:30, destroying my precious “alone time” before I had to get into Mommy mode. I was feeling very frustrated this morning so this helped me put things into perspective. My selfishness is the problem…not her sleeping schedule. 🙂

  23. Thank you!! I have 3 girls 15, 11, and 18 months. I had gotten used to my older girls sleeping in and when after 8 years of trying and praying we were blessed with #3 it was a shock to wake at 5 am.(and still is) My husband and I use these early hours to snuggle with our little one and cherish the moments that will too soon be a memory. Thanks again for the reminder.

  24. I have not commented before, but I love your site! I had to comment today, b/c this is something that God continues to teach me!!! And you put it to such great words. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for the reminder to be in the “now” — to take the seasons as they come and to understand how important our young children are right now!

  25. I have had this realization a couple of times lately. We just had a very rare week off from school for snow. In my mind this was the perfect time to “get things done” and I was getting irritated that my children (and husband) wanted me to drop all my cleaning plans and go play in the snow. Suddenly I realized THEY and this rare opportunity to sled, build a snow man and teach my kids how to make the perfect snowball was so much more important. So, off I went, to play in the snow and I am so glad I did!

  26. Love, love, love this! As I too am sitting up with my little one at 5AM (what is supposed to be my time!) Thank you for the gentle reminder. =)