learning to stop.

I lay on the couch, laptop propped on a pillow on top of me. It’s a familiar evening routine, mommy editing pictures, or uploading sessions to her website, or blogging, or typing case notes. Since {in a blink} has taken off, my life has become very, very busy. And while I am thankful for what God is up to, and how He has blessed our family with the extra income to help us get out of debt, it can be hard sometimes to put in the hours that are necessary… and to love on my babies like they need. Especially the one with blonde hair and big brown eyes.

I am just being honest here.

I didn’t really realize how busy my life had gotten until last night, as he chattered on and I focused intently on a text message conversation and picture edits and catching up on emails and checking the status of a photo delivery, and he said “Mom, did you hear a word I just said?”

The answer was “no”. Not a single word. {mother.of.the.year}

He and I were home alone, and to this minute it makes me cry because I STILL do not know what he was talking about. I asked him to repeat himself, and instead of re-hashing it, he marveled at how I could look like I am listening, and instead my mind be a hundred other places. He wasn’t upset, in fact he thought it was funny.

But I didn’t think it was funny at all.

Lately, 4H projects and a flurry of craft glue, fabric, ribbon, paint, and glitter have given Tali and I the quality time that works for her.  She is an acts of service type lover… showing her love by carrying babies, vacuuming (one of my favorites), helping in children’s church, getting you a refill on your sweet tea, and running to the car to grab something you forgot. And so my taking copious amounts of time to sit with her as she creates, offering my expertise and opinions (many of which are rejected!)… unexpected trips to Vincennes to get that one item she just has to have… Digging through my craft storage and offering her free reign of my stash… shows her that I love her.

But that doesn’t work for Zach. I can do things for him, paint him something cool, buy him all of the things that his heart desires, even sit and talk with him and say the most encouraging things (which is why those words unheard didn’t faze him)… and none of those things speak love like the language of touch…of being together in a tangible way.

As I lay there tapping away on my keyboard, I sensed a critter crawling to me. Pressing his forehead against my cheek the critter whispered, “I haven’t laid with you in a long time”…

My almost ten-year-old little man… football player, catcher extraordinaire, bike rider, rough houser, model builder, straight-A student, video gamer… wanted to cuddle with his momma.

I want to say I put the computer down immediately. I did not. There is so much to get done. My to-do list grows and grows and grows and I never seem to get ahead of it. If I could just finish editing this one more session, I could put that satisfying line through their name on my list. Another hour or two and I will be done…I want to tell you that the natural thing for me was to cuddle my son. But stopping does not come naturally to me at all. Being still requires a conscious decision. 

But that head lay there next to mine. Little boy knees crouched on the floor by the couch. Just wanting to be close.

And I knew… I knew… these moments are fleeting. They will not be here forever. Zachary, here, near, wanting to lay on the couch with his momma. With me. No one in the world will do. Just me. One of these days he is going to grow up. He will move out and move on. This moment is fleeting…

And so I closed my computer and set it on the floor. Pushing my way to the back of the couch I made room. And with the lift of a blanket, Zach knew the invitation had been issued.

And so we cuddled.

All eighty pounds of him, pressed against me. Heavy and long.

I thought of the seven pound baby I laid on this very same couch with. How snuggly he fit, nestled against my body. And now, his head alone lay in that space. His body stretched the length of mine, falling only inches short of the top of my feet.

And yet. He still fit.

I rubbed his arm, now strong with the throwing of baseballs all summer. I ran fingers through hair bleached blonde from long hours at the local pool. I listened to a voice deepening, asking questions about the show flickering in the TV.

We talked, we watched… but mostly… we were just there. And in that was the love.

My cell phone chimed. A new text message.  I saw my son’s eyes glance toward the phone, and then to me.  He waited for me to reach for it (he knows his momma well).  But I let it lay. And then again, and again, and again, and again. Five messages lay in wait. But I didn’t move toward the phone. Those conversations are important. But not so important as this.  

Zach didn’t need me busy. He just needed me.

For an hour we lay together. For an hour I thanked God for this time, for slowing me down, for showing me the error of my way… for showing me how I had let the doing interfere with the being. I thanked Him for this little boy growing toward manhood. This one who makes me laugh with his witty humor. This one who hates to clean but loves to cook.  This one who brushes it off when mom has spaced out again and didn’t hear what he was chattering on about. This one who mops the floor after a spaghetti supper, even when mommy isn’t there to remind him to be helpful. This one who looks up to his daddy and so knows what a man should be. This one who works hard to achieve in sports what comes naturally to other kids. This one with a smile that melts my heart and stops my world and reminds me what is important. This one who… still fits in my arms.

This one who turned into my body, and head on my chest, fell asleep last night. 

As moms... it's easy to let the busy get in the way. The cleaning, or the working, or the cooking, or the preparing, or the washing, or the cell phone, or the computer... I am the worst. I do not do nothing well. I do not do stopping well. I am always going, and thinking and doing... most of the time two or three things at once. 

But last night, God used a kid with a heart for football and a penchant for fart jokes  to teach me how to stop

And to be.

And to love.

He showed me that the stopping was not nothing. It was something. It was everything. That the to-do list can wait. Photo edits will still be there. But this moment... this moment is precious and it is fleeting and that I have to slow down... or I am going to miss it. And I don't want to miss a thing in this amazing little man's life. I don't want him thinking my computer was more important than his cuddle. I don't know what this means for the future, or turn around time on photo edits, or working full time, or volunteering... but I know that I will do a better job at embracing the stopping, and the being, and the loving. In the end... it's all that will really matter.

Zachary... thank you for being patient with mommy when her mind is somewhere else and it should be with you. Thank you for laughing with me, and for loving me just the way I am. Thank you for sharing me with so many other people and things, and for being confident in my love no matter how poorly I show it. Zach, thank you so much for helping mommy slow down, to set the world aside, and remember what is really important. Thank you for helping me be the mommy you need me to be. I love you buddy... and just so you know... even when your toes stretch beyond mine on the couch... there will always be room. You will always fit.


Hillary Talley said...

Sweetest.words.ever. Zach is a lucky boy and you are one lucky momma. Love you guys.

Becky Boyles said...

Thanks H <3

Jenee Spencer said...

Thanks so much for posting this becky!! even though, I am not a mother, I am an aunt to two beautiful, growing girls, and I have been sooo busy with 60 hr work weeks and summer classes, that I havent seen them in over three weeks! After reading this blog and hearing my 8-yr old niece maddie in the background of a phone conversation say, "aunt jenee cant come over she is too busy writing speeches", it made me realize that I too need to stop.
..something I am not good at either.