"Your body is the first thing any child of man ever wanted. Therefore dispose yourself to be loved, to be wanted, to be available. Be there for them with a vengeance. Be a gracious, bending woman. Incline your ear, your heart, your hands to them.... To be a Mother is to be the sacrament - the effective symbol - of place. Mothers do not make homes, they are our home." from Bed and Board, Robert Farrar Capon

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Enjoying Your Children

The following is an excerpt from the book "How Do You Find the Time?" by Pat King.  She had ten children, and she tells how she learned (sometimes the hard way) that there is a war against us enjoying our children.  I think I first read the book in 1976, the year I had my first baby.  Then I read it several more times through the years (probably whenever I felt completely buried in laundry, diapers, and messes).   Looking back over the years, I can see how much this book helped shape my attitude about what is really important. Here's an excerpt:

"Children take time. If we have been called by God to be mothers, let's drop all the activities that are making it so painful for us to enjoy our children.

     It takes half an hour to feed a toddler breakfast.
     Half an hour to bathe and dress him.
     Half an hour to clean up what he shouldn't have gotten into.
     It takes half and hour to sit with a four-year-old, working a puzzle for the first time.
     It takes half an hour to listen to a six-year-old's reading lesson.
     It takes half an hour to coach a teenager in history.
     It takes twenty minutes to share a cup of tea with a young daughter.
     It takes uncountable hours to drive a carpool.
     It takes fifteen minutes, six times a day, to discipline a child who has decided to test you.
     It takes fifteen minutes, each night, to listen to each child's prayers.

All these things that must be done with our children are at war with all that society tells us, or that we tell ourselves, we must do elsewhere. 

For me the war ended abruptly, and with it the misery, with the realization that I didn't have to be any of those people that magazines so subtly insisted I should be. I didn't have to be a "great" housekeeper or an enviable cook. I didn't have to wear any of those "hats" ...  I didn't have to be any of those people that the media insisted were so important: the politically involved, the champion of the down-trodden, or even the exciting, innovative hostess.

Sometimes we make life so complicated, and get our time so parceled out, that half an hour for a child's story, or two hours for an afternoon game, or 15 minutes to clean up a quart of spilled milk throws our schedule and our dispositions into a fury."

How Do You Find the Time


  1. It's always nice when someone realizes and puts into words what no "schedule" ever takes into account, and that is that most of what a mother of small children does in a day is completely unplanned and unschedule-able. And adding a nursing baby to that list?!? Forget it!
    Have your schedule, but be ready to throw it out a minute from now if it makes life itself look like an interruption.

  2. Thank you! Sometimes a simple "what did you do today?" from a friend (or husband) makes me start wondering, what DID I do today? This post has, once again, encouraged me that all the "diaper changing, baby feeding, mess-cleaning" is important. There is nothing I'd rather be doing and spending my day taking care of my little girls, and making it pleasant for when my husband gets home. (the latter of which I fail at quite often, thank God for the gifts of repentance and forgiveness!)

  3. Great advice!

    Recently I was very ill and in bed for a few days. My family had full charge of the house,and the care of each other. They dearly missed me and greatly appreciated it when I was better! We mothers make cleaning and cooking and housekeeping (and just being there) look so easy to them, that they don't even realize how much effort goes into being a wife and mother.

    That sounds like a precious book. I'll see if I can find a copy of it somewhere. Thanks so much!

    Mrs. White

  4. Thank you, Cathy for the excerpts. I purchased the book on Abebooks
    for $1. For me it seems my children are a good reflection of my contentedness or of my being "busy" (Martha, Martha...), and I'm thankful for that because it leads me to repentance and the forgiveness of sins (again and again, etc..) and back to slowing down and seeing my husband, my children and enjoying them. Back to where Jesus is... feeding among the lilies.
    - Michelle

  5. I love love love this post because our society is so fast-paced and "productive", that at the end of the day sometimes I feel like I've gotten nothing done. But all of the time it takes to take care of child COUNTS. Just feeding my one year old little bits of fruit turns into a 30 minute activity because he drops half of them on the floor, which I have to then clean up after I've sent him off to play :) Thank you for sharing how important time with our children is, and that our other duties come second to them.