Outside of Grace officially entered a publishing contract in what was simultaneously the most monumental and mundane Monday of my life. It was a day of parenting, full of wiping noses, bottoms, and tears—in no particular order.
After preparing an afternoon snack, I checked my phone and saw an email confirming the contract and welcoming me to the publishing house. I looked up, mental confetti raining all around me, to find a very upset four year old who had dropped her orange slice in the dirt. Showing her my phone and telling her that momma was going to be a published novelist was no use. She really wanted me to wash off her orange.
That was how my lifelong dream was set in motion. After many months of writing and editing, querying and dealing with rejection (and loads of doubt and despair), it all catapulted into publication while toddlers wiped grimy hands on my legs. While the ink on my contract was still drying, my two year old set her wet sippy cup on top of it. Honestly, it was a perfect picture of what this entire process has been like. Jotting notes on my phone while we walk to the park, daydreaming while folding laundry, and working late after the kids go to bed. I frequently hear of people writing their first book in retirement. I’ve even heard plenty of advice that I should wait until then. That I should wait until I’ve lived enough to have a story to tell (and how long is that?). And yes, it’s been hard to get it all done in the 12 hours a week of childcare we have. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love being a writer mama.
So I wrapped up those sticky-cheeked and tangled-hair babies in my arms and rained all that confetti on them in the form of kisses. They didn’t have a clue why, but they knew mama was happy and they were too. And God knew. He knew we had finally found a publisher who caught the vision for this story (two, actually! I got two offers within a week). He knows were it’s going next. And I know I’ll be there, signing books and bribing toddlers with lollipops. It will be wonderful.
I know you want to do big things, to make a difference, to be the change. I know you pour out your heart and energy into our community. I know you love people well. So save some for me, Mom.
Save time for slowing down, for eye-to-eye moments, and heart-to-heart talks. Save space to play with me, to listen to me, to hear me. Save room for me to have needs too. Save some for me, Mom.
You’re managing a home, cooking and cleaning and caring. You’re working a business, earning and sharing. You’re learning, growing and making. Please save some for me, Mom.
Don’t run yourself ragged before you’ve chased me around. Don’t wear yourself out before I come in the door. Don’t tire of loving before you love me. Save some for me, Mom.
In all you do, can I be your most important charge? In all you do, am I a task or a delight? In all you do, may I be a part? Save some for me, Mom.
Keep achieving, Mom, I’m learning from you. Keep going, Mom, I’m growing with you. Keep resting, Mom, I find peace in you. Just save some for me, Mom.
As I head into the new year and set my eyes on goals ahead, this has been on my heart a lot lately. Like many moms (all moms?), I’m subject to Mom Guilt. Balancing life and motherhood is difficult. I frequently have to remind myself that it’s okay for my girls to see their mother work hard and achieve other things. It’s also okay to know when to draw the line and remember that they’re my first priority.
This idea of “saving some” for my kids has been guiding my decisions lately. When I wonder if I can add in one more thing, I have to ask myself—will I be able to save space for my kids? Will this add energy to my life that I can then pour into my children, or will it drain me and leave me empty at the end of the day when they come running into my arms?
I find that my children will demand every bit of me—even when I’m home with them all day, on my hands and knees playing with them for hours on end, they’ll ask for more. It’s okay, healthy even, to show them what boundaries look like. To show them that Momma does more than just play games. But at the end of the day, I need to have saved some space for them. I need a day off where I can spend it playing. Even thirty minutes off, where I’m not worried about my to-do lists, and I can see things through their eyes again. Because the world through the eyes of a child is a beautiful thing. They are beautiful gifts. So I will save some for them.
Preface: This blog was doomed to be a little bit of everything. It is my name, after all. Sure, it should probably find a niche and cover just one teeny tiny aspect of life. But I’ve tried that, and before long, my interests change a bit and I get passionate about something new and the blog falls by the wayside. So I’m going to roll with the fact that my life is a little bit of writing, a little bit of photography, a little bit of central Texas news, and a whole lotta momming. And I’m not writing it to become the biggest, baddest, most-money-making-est blogger out there. I’m writing it to keep it active and because hitting those little letters on my laptop brings me joy.
And today, my mind is on nature. The weather is finally changing in central Texas and it’s beautiful outside. I want my children to live that old-fashioned life, spending hours a day outdoors. But there’s one huge problem: they don’t want to go outside. I mean, sure, maybe for a few minutes, for a quick bounce on the trampoline. More than that though? Not feeling it. I don’t blame them, honestly. Indoors is comfortable, predictable, and controlled. My oldest is highly sensitive and not one to enjoy getting muddy, being startled by a dog, or having her hair blown into her face. Plus, most of her toys and entertainment are located indoors. So when I say with all the enthusiasm of a nature-loving momma, “Let’s go outside!” I’m likely to get a blank stare and a “no thanks” shrug in response. Thus, I have to lure them. I have to instill a love for nature in them through fun, joyful activities. Here’s a few currently on my radar:
Nature Walk Ideas
Tree hunt around the block, use a guide or an app like LeafSnap or PictureThis to identify them.
Tally the number of each type of tree you find.
Make tree bark rubbings with paper and a crayon.
Go bird spotting: use a guide or app like iNaturalist to identify them. Bring binoculars or make play ones with toilet paper rolls.
Tally the types of birds you find.
Try to find a nest.
Make up a story about one of the birds you see. Read a story about a bird when you get home (The Nest That Wren Built is our latest from the library).
Go on a sound hunt—try to identify at least 5 sounds you hear on your walk.
Go on a smell hunt—sniff various plants and find your favorite. Follow your nose to find what smells good/bad.
Throw rocks in water. Honestly, this is about 95% of what we do outdoors. Toddler addiction right there.
Look for signs of the season. It’s October, so head out and find leaves changing color, acorns falling, birds migrating, etc.
Take dolls or animals for a walk. Bring a favorite lovey along. If it’s an animal, all the better, find a habitat that he/she might like.
Make Play-Doh imprints. Bring along a jar of Play-Doh and press it against a tree, compare the imprint to the next tree or item you find.
Go on a rock hunt: find rocks to paint. After they’re painted, return them or hide them around your block.
Color scavenger hunt: draw a box in each color of the rainbow on a brown paper bag (add black, brown, and white too). Find items in each color and collect them in the bag. Check off each box as you go.
Look for signs of animals: find tracks or scat on a trail. Look for signs of natural animal paths.
Suburbs style house hunt: find the most colorful house on the block, the biggest, the smallest, the most decorated, etc.
Go on a bug hunt—look under rocks and logs to find bugs.
Find a natural obstacle course on a hiking trail. A fallen lock or series of large rocks are great for this. Try balancing, hopping, crawling, etc.
Gathering hike: gather natural items like sticks, leaves, rocks, flowers, etc. for crafts at home.
Nature Craft Ideas
Make a sun-catcher using flat/pressed natural items on sticky contact paper.
Use natural paintbrushes like dandelions, twigs, leaves, etc. to paint a picture.
Make a nature mobile: hang leaves, flowers and acorns from a stick using yarn.
Leave people: draw funny faces on leaves, googly eyes optional.
Make leaf rubbings using a crayon. Compare different types of leaves.
Draw a tree on paper and “leaf” it with found items (pieces of grass, leaves, flowers, etc.)
Make a sticky nature bracelet using contact paper or duct tape and gather things on it.
Make a paper crown and decorate it with found items.
Make fairies using sticks for bodies and leaves for wings. Paint rock houses for them.
Make a leaf necklace by “sewing” leaves onto pipe cleaners (just stick them right on).
Press flowers and use them to decorate greeting cards or bookmarks.
Which idea is your favorite? What was the last thing you did in nature? I’d love more ideas!