The past few months, my daughter Lyla has been expanding her vocabulary at a rather speedy pace. She’s picking up words and phrases that I don’t even recognize myself saying and quite often I’m asking, “Where did she hear that from?”.
Last week, as we were driving to the store, I began singing loudly to entertain the children. I was having a blast myself, humming and chanting the words to our most requested songs lately, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”. We are still celebrating Christmas here, I guess. This time though, Lyla wasn’t feeling it and quickly with MUCH emphasis said, “Mom, RELAX.”
I started laughing. Mom, RELAX? No way did she just say that. So, like any good parent, I started singing again to see what her reaction would be. Lyla replies again, “Mom, relax please”. I ask, “Honey, you don’t want momma to sing right now?”. “Nope,” she says.
Laughing, I surely knew where she’s heard that phrase before.
Catch a glimpse of my daily repeated requests to a busy two-year old…
“Lyla, calm your body.”
“Lyla, please relax.”
“Lyla, can you just sit quietly next to me for a few minutes?”
I have a confession to make, a parenting one.
I have a HARD time relaxing. Calming my own body and mind is far from an easy request for me. That day, I realized I’m asking my very active toddler to do something that I, in fact, have a really hard time doing myself.
She certainly hasn’t learned the art of relaxing or slowing down from me, yet…
This little moment with my girl brought me back to a warm summer day a few months back where I felt God’s gentle nudge to LEARN how to slow down. Very pregnant with my son, Owen, chasing around a one year old, I found myself running in circles (your everyday too? I truly understand.). This was my reality! Mom picks up living room and puts toys away, toddler pulls said toys back out and throws them on the floor. Mom does dishes and cleans up kitchen, dad decides he wants a grilled cheese (toast crumbs are the WORST!). Mom makes the bed… two hours later, mom needs a nap. Anyone else? Endless cycle of crazy. SO I decided to do something to help me learn what it means to slow down. I was going to plant some roses.
I had never grown roses before, so this was all new to me. The day dreams of the many bouquets I would have on my kitchen table home-grown from my own garden came true! I had a blast researching the thousands of roses out there and choosing the perfect ones that I, myself, would stop and smell on a hot summer day. And then, I did it! I bought two rose bushes. Hubby built a raised flower bed for the side of our house and there I planted two beautiful blooming bushes.
I may have been pricked many times and I surely did a very imperfect job at trimming and pruning the bushes but those roses taught me something this summer.
What if relaxing isn’t coffee in hand, remote in the other, and lost in the latest Netflix series? What if it’s not a long day at the spa getting the world’s best facial and manicure?
Relaxing, I learned, is living in the present where ever you are.
It’s stopping what you’re doing and joining your child while they play doctor.
It’s pausing from the long list of chores to look your husband in the eyes and talk about your day.
It’s spontaneously grabbing coffee with an old friend who just happened to be in the area.
It’s slowing down to smell the beautiful blooming rose-bush on the side of your house.
After all, the goal of relaxation is freedom, right? Freedom from noise, busyness, kids, chores, work, etc., the list goes on! Relaxing, my friends, is seeing where God is currently working moment by moment and joining Him. I [very imperfectly] practice slowing down by asking God what I should be doing. It’s very freeing to live life following Jesus’ steps.
I know, this might challenge your idea of relaxation, but I’ve personally noticed that the more I stop looking AHEAD or thinking about what I need or should be doing next, my mind calms, my spirit stills, and my beating heart gets a chance to relax.
P.S. You’re doing a great job.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9