That Single Priority

I’ve been thinking about priorities. Mulling over them, considering and re-considering. Making schedules and checklists. Ordering our days. Setting the tone for our new family rhythm, the one that puts Posy front and center (where she belongs).

I’m asking the question: what is most important for our family right now?

It changes constantly, doesn’t it?

Our daily routine has changed, so I wrote up a new weekday schedule- one with lots of margin in the hours, one that prioritizes what needs the most attention around here (namely Posy. Oh, and chores and school).

Our school focus has changed, so I revised our daily school checklists. I dropped the subjects we’ve finished for the year and put emphasis on others that are more important now.

My free time has changed. I don’t have the time I used to for blog reading, and the unread item list in my google reader has gotten wildly out of hand. Silly to stress over blog reading, yes? So I spent ten minutes categorizing- putting subscribed blogs into various folders. Now, when I log in to my reader, I read those in the “First” folder, well…. first.

I tweaked our cleaning routines. Actually, I overhauled them. Those old routines just weren’t working for us anymore- not in this season of life. So I sat down and thought about the jobs that were most important to me, and I made a place for them on the schedule. The house will be reasonably clean (though perhaps not reasonably tidy). And when we can’t manage even reasonably clean, we’ll just have to recognize that relationships are more important than tasks anyway, and relationships flourish even when the house is a-jumble.

I want to learn how to play the guitar, and I’m not sure where that fits in yet. I want to hone my photography skills. I want to write and share here, and I long to read teetering stacks of books. These are my creative outlets- these are my mother culture. They’ll all fit in some way or another. Maybe not all at once, but in snippets? Yes. I can do snippets.

I will make snippets of time for the things that feed me.

I have a blog post or three bouncing around in my brain. A giveaway I want to do. A new link-up to launch in the next week. But every time I sit down to do some writing, something more crucial pops up. Like… dinner. Or a child needing a book transcribed while the story is still bubbling out of her fresh. Or a spontaneous Easter shoe shopping excursion. Or my bed, calling out to me in my sleep-deprived-there’s-a-newborn-in-the-house exhaustion.

And it’s all good, really, because it’s all life. My beautiful, messy, full-to-bursting, love-without-limits life. I’m drinking up every minute.

There have been times when I have eyed my list of to-do’s, groaned over the seeming impossibility of more to do than hours to do it in, and thought this too shall pass.

But that’s not how it ought to be.

So instead I find myself closing eyes tight, whispering urgently into the baby’s sweet furry head, don’t pass.

Don’t pass without me seeing you. Breathing you in. Knowing you. Drinking up every last bit of you.

There have been times of walking into a room crammed with laundry and toys and books and a day’s creative doings all sprawled out like the entrails of a birthday pinata, and I’ve fought the urge to cry More Mess! with, instead, So much! So blessed!

There are six years between Snapdragon and Posy. Six years between a third and a fourth child. Six years to give me sparkling clarity on how fast it all goes.

It goes.

For six years I watched those three oldest babies of mine grow, and now I get it. I get it down to my bones. This muddle, this mess, this seeming chaos and merry-go-round whirl of a day–

This is joyous wonder.

This is beauty.

This is life.

So I’ll make my checklists. I’ll write my schedules. I’ll mull over priorities. I’ll mop a floor, wipe a bottom, click a shutter, strum a chord on the guitar.  And I’ll revel in the simplicity of knowing that each day, this day, every day, I really have just one task before me: to love them well.

It’s the single priority that never changes. If I have loved them well, I have lived this day to its fullest. And that’s all that really matters.

Comments

  1. beth says

    Oh Sarah! Thank you for sharing your heart and for this needed reminder. What a blessing to read and apply!

  2. says

    Beautiful!!

    There are 6 years between my oldest (biological) daughter and my second (adopted) daughter. During that time I joked that if we ever had another baby, I would never put it down. God gave us a beautiful 11 mo. old girl from China who wanted to be held almost constantly. I felt guilty for not cleaning, cooking as much, etc. but my wonderful husband was always quick to remind me that I was doing exactly what I had wished for and should be doing at that moment. She’s 6 now and I’m glad I held her as much as possible.

  3. says

    I needed this post. I am also going through schedule changes. Just had our third three months ago and I forgot how life is with a newborn. I have finally over the past few weeks resigned myself that family is more important than having my house look spic and span 24/7. A wonderful post and thanks for sharing.

    Constance@ dewhurstfamily.blogspot.com

  4. says

    Yes, yes, YES to all of this. I wish I had learned this lesson 10 years earlier than I did. Do absolutely whatever you have to do to remember this.

  5. says

    Beautiful writing, Sarah!

    I’ve always liked the quote, “Our home is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.”

  6. says

    Yes and yes. My youngest (of three) is turning ten. How I longed and still (even now. Still) long for another baby. It all goes SO fast. Too fast. How wise you are to be embracing every single messy glorious moment! It is all such a gift, the mess, the baby baths, the love! So happy for you that you get to experience this again.

  7. Anonymous says

    Beautiful thoughts. Thank you so much for sharing them! I desperately needed the reminder today. -Sara

  8. says

    Oh Srah, what a beautiful, phenomenal post! You NEED to submit this entire post to a magazine (w/pics included if possible). A woman’s Day, parenting, goo dhse keeping magazine would jump on this. Words so many need to hear. Beautifullt, beautifully written from the depths of the heart!

  9. JennyM says

    I loved this, thank you. Brought me to tears. It is all so true.

    Bless you and your sweet babies–all four of them!
    JennyM

  10. Katie in GA says

    Wow, Sarah … thank you. Wonderful words and thoughts for me to mull over as I am just about to welcome my own new baby to our home and family. God bless you!

  11. Jocelyne says

    Coming out of lurkdom to say awesome post! I have a now 9-month-old babe and an 8-year-old. The babe I longed for years to have showed up last year and I could not be happier. And with the large gap I too know the reality of it passing all too fast. And I am soaking up every single ounce of this one. And the big one too. Loving them both fully. And not caring in the slightest about messy house and laundry in dire need of folding and all that. My babe does not sleep well. At all. In our arms only. Day and night (well, at night he does let me sleep snuggled up right next to him!). Everyone wonders how I survive. And I say because I know it will be over just like that. And I know at the end of the road he’ll learn to sleep just fine. And I’ll be looking back and missing these days of snuggling up with my babe. So now I just hold him while he sleeps. I just love them both to pieces. And cherish it all. Because I know I am just going to blink…

  12. says

    What a wonderful way to begin my day! Beautiful post, Sarah. It is exactly what I needed to see today. I have been getting a bit overwhelmed trying to do too much lately (school, home, planning for the next school year, birthdays, etc)and it seems I run out of time too quickly these days. It frustrates me because I want to spend less time planning and more time doing! My oldest turns ten tomorrow and it is bittersweet for me as it has truly gone by too fast for me! Take care sweet friend and have a very blessed Easter.

  13. Peggy says

    Sarah, from a woman that is old enough to be your mother, and has loved your posts and enjoyed your work.
    I want to say…….yes, sweetheart you have got it.
    Breath them in they will move on very quickly.You will then have pride in a job well done. But now just breath them in and laugh with them.Sing to them,play your guitar to them,read to them. these are the things they will remember,not that the dishes went undone.
    Bless you.

  14. says

    I just reread your post once more. Am teary-eyed. By far and above one of the best posts ever written by anyone! I was reading the comment right above this one, and, coming from a similar place: a mother, grandmother, of time passing before my eyes… I can say yes DO breathe in every minute, but take solace in the assurance that the minutes never really stop. Still every precious minute I spend with grown children, grandchildren, are so precious beyond words, and still I want to be sure to keep my priority just as you said here, “And I’ll revel in the simplicity of knowing that each day, this day, every day, I really have just one task before me: to love them well.

  15. Penny in VT says

    Truly lovely post Sarah. Words from the heart are always so well written. And when written by *you*, beautiful as well… :)

    xo, Penny

  16. Lisa R (from 4Real) says

    Beautiful, Sarah. Just beautiful. I haven’t been in touch since you moved to Eastern WA. I don’t know if you remember me (Lisa R) but we had “chatted” on 4Real before you moved. We unfortunately, moved to OH right before you came to Eastern WA. I so wish we could have met. I’d love to know where you finally settled there and which church you ended up attending.

    Anyway, our boys are almost 16 and 18 and we are blessed with 2 little girls from China who are 5 and 7 now. Most days it’s quite overwhelming to have what feels like 2 separate “families”. Thanks for the reminder how fast it goes and the reminder to feel blessed that I get the chance to do it all over again with my girls. You’d think I’d know that with my boys being the age they are but the timing of your post couldn’t be more perfect.

    Blessed Easter to you!
    Lisa R

  17. says

    Beautiful post Sarah. Simply beautiful. Blessing to your family that He granted you the wisdom to embrace this precious and fleeting season of your life.

  18. says

    I am new to your blog and I just love this post…really love it! I am expecting my 4th baby as well as getting ready to start our homeschool journey all at the same time…its coming soon and I am not sure how I will manage it all. Your last line just gave me such a sense of peace. As long as I love these kids daily then I”m doing a good job! Thank you so much!
    Corey Brock

  19. says

    People focus on “this to shall pass” as a mantra for patience but maybe you’re inspiring a more urgent “this to shall pass” as a warning to SLOW DOWN!! The days are long sometimes but the years are so short. There is a season for everything – there will be time for learning guitar and writing novels and reading libraries full of books. But your season now is to reveal in motherhood – in all it’s messy wonderful crazy glory! Love you friend!

  20. says

    My new favorite of yours. Thank you Sarah for expressing so beautifully what I realized recently but couldn’t put it into blog-worthy words. :-)

    Oh, um…when you get the chance, could you post your plans for the upcoming year? And I’d love to know more about that big notebook of yours.

    One more thing…LOVE the picture of Posy sticking out her tongue!

  21. says

    “It’s the single priority that never changes. If I have loved them well, I have lived this day to its fullest. And that’s all that really matters.”

    Thank you for this lovely post. It was the extra encouragement I needed today, after all the things and messes and plans undone that happened the past few days. I have 6 beautiful children and really try every day to see each one and relish where they’re at. I was thinking tonight that if I didn’t have so many kids, I’ve have “lots of time” for other things, but I would be greatly missing out on something very precious. Love is all that matters! Happy Easter!

  22. Laura says

    I feel like I haven’t been to you blog in ages, though it’s probably been just a week ;) Beautiful post, great pictures. Happy easter!

  23. Anonymous says

    I also have a baby and it is challenging to remember everything every day. So, I made my own school and chore check list. Now they know what to do and I can go by the check list. Great idea. Thank you.

  24. says

    Just happened upon your blog…and I finally “got it” with my third child. I wish I could go back and enjoy every minute of babyness and toddlerhood of my first two that passed by in a flash. I’m happy that the whole family realizes how special, cute, precious, and lovely are babies and all that they do and discover and help us rediscover.

  25. says

    Yes! And I must remind myself of this every.single.day. I feel that “loving them well” is the most important but then lo and behold I wake up one morning and that to-do list becomes all-consuming. Projects and checking off my lists rises higher than really loving and seeing the ones in front of me. I hate that so much…yet where sin abounds, grace abounds more. Thank you, Lord!

  26. says

    A friend forwarded your post to me, as I am a new mother to a fifth baby (two months old now) and we are trying to homeschool and keep it all together. Your post read my heart’s thoughts. I linger too much in guilt over the things I need to get done, rather than just enjoy life and the rest will come, eventually. I don’t want my kids to hear “we’re behind” or “clean up” all the time. We’re NOT behind, we’re taking our time with what is more important to us or things more pressing, like baby. We don’t have to always clean up, because we’re healthy and playing together. Thanks for the reminder to “Think Happy THoughts!” and reprioritize what is REALLY important in each day.

  27. says

    I spent ten minutes categorizing- putting subscribed blogs into various folders>>

    Wait! Wha what?? this can be done?? You may have just revolutionized my Reader experience. Putting discovering how to do that on my to do list. For after I have no more house or furniture anyway. Soon soon…

  28. says

    OK, you just made me cry =) i found you thru pinterest’s Jessica’s shower of roses. I’m sitting here trying to put together our school year to begin in two weeks! We’ve been sick for the past two weeks, my youngest is 4 months, and my oldest 9 (6 total). I like your color coded lists, and your checklists; but you just hit the nail in the head for me. Love them well – in between the mopping, cooking, schooling, diapering, etc, etc.
    Thanks for the reminder, and thanks for this beautiful post!

  29. says

    This is absolutely beautiful. I read lots of wonderful bloggers, but this is the first time a blog post has ever made me cry — and I don’t even have children yet. I’m going to save this for when I have them– and keep it now, too, to remember for husband and family and friends.

  30. Emily says

    Sarah, this is an amazing post. I have 5 in just shy of 6 years and so many times I walk into the family room after baby has taken ALL the books out of the bottom shelf of the bookshelf and think “I spend my whole day doing things I’ll do again in 2 minutes”…there will always been another book to re-shelve, bottom to wipe, endless story to hear, laundry to put away, etc, etc…this post helped me so much with perspective!! Thanks so much.