under our sycamore tree

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Nothing but reading books and jump dives on a bunch of outdoor pillows. Slow. Just being…together.

Why is slowing down so hard? My To-Do lists have To-Do lists on them. I could fill far more than 24 hours a day trying to get it all done. It will never be all done. There will always be something waiting for my attention. There will always be one more thing to check off. There will always be the things of life screaming at me to get them accomplished. There will always be an unanswered email and a message on my phone waiting for a response. But does it really matter? So, an email goes unanswered for a week and a stranger gets frustrated with me. But if it went unanswered because I was slowing down, not hurrying through life so I can soak up this moment as a mom – a stranger’s frustration seems so small. Yet, I typically choose to answer ‘one more email’ and tell those little ones ‘just one more minute’….yuck.

There will not always be 4 little ones wanting nothing more than my undivided attention. Not the half attention that has one ear listening to their jedi stories and the other ear hearing the beep on my phone. They want me. Their demands can often feel so big and unending, but when I step back….it is pretty simple. They just want their mommy. They won’t always be running crazy at my feet. They won’t always beg for one more story or playing chase on the trampoline. God has given me the greatest gift – He has given me ‘now’. I may fail at a lot of things in life, but being here now with them – I want to get that one thing right. So, today I’ll try again. I’ll fail at it over and over…but I won’t give up. I’ll fight for it because they are worth it. I hope and pray I savor it and live fully in it…..you know the way you breathe in that sweet newborn smell begging God to never let you forget it. I want that intensity to live slow…..

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  • Laurie - I often think about being “busy” and try to remind myself to slow down. A friend of mine shared you post with me this morning. Thank you for writing and sharing your beautiful photos and family.

    http://thefamilythatlaughstogether.blogspot.com

    Laurie

  • Margo - Thank you for this reminder! I don’t have children of my own, but I have neices and nephew that are pracitcally my own sometimes. I try to remind myself that the messes and other things in life will still be there, but that my time with them is precisous and I need to fully engage and enjoy it!

  • SusannaN - This is really on my heart right now too! I have a 3 year old and last night I still smelled a little “baby” smell on her which I haven’t in so long. I kept smelling and smelling her until she asked me what I was doing! ha!

  • donna - Thank you!!!!! my husband asked if you were a writer, I said no “Just” a “Mom”

  • Ashley - I definitely need to be reading this and taking it to heart right now. Enjoy your kiddos :)

  • Jenni - Best. Blog. Ever!

  • kelly - LOVE this.

  • Kelly - You are an inspiration! Thank you for your words of wisdom, gentle reminders and beautiful photographs. Thanks to you, I remind myself often to be more present in the moment. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

  • Trish - this is worded so well. thanks for the reminder… i’ve been hearing this a lot lately. SLOW DOWN! I just heard it last night in one of Francis Chan’s sermons… good to hear! thanks

  • Kathie M - Love it!! :D

  • faith - aww so much fun! i want to move in next door to y’all!!! :)

  • April - Nicely said …. you are a blessing with your gentle reminders. Thanks.

  • Katherine Bach - Thank you for this! I have been feeling the same way lately… the to-do list is never ending and I love that you took time to spend with your kids and forget about everything and just enjoy them. I think I will try to do this tomorrow… :)

  • Flossie - Beautiful. As a mom who works outside the home, I often complain that I don’t have enough time. But then I find that the time I DO have is spent being half present. Thanks for the reality check.

  • Katy - That made me cry!! I’m so on the same page with you. I need to live in the NOW and not dwell on such little things sometimes before my kids grow up.

  • Kathy - Great, now I’m crying at work.

    I so needed to read this.

  • Kirsten - I love this! Today my 4 year old did not want a play date outside and asked me for “Mommy Time”. I had to cancle on the friends and kids coming over, I just could not turn her down. We had a wonderful day together singing songs out on the swing, jump ropeing and doing cartwheels. We did a little shopping and ate at her favorite place. She has told me over and over today she loves being with just me. I definately need to slow down and not have my 4 year old ask for my attention.

  • Cathie - Like every other comment, I DEFINITELY needed this. I’ve been working 12+ hours this week and could use some extra hours in the day.
    And the weekends are never long enough.
    I’m off tomorrow (to deal with a broken A/C – yuck!) but am glad I get to spend a whole day/evening with my 2 year old!

  • lisa - Great post. Makes you step back and think about the big picture. Thank you it’s always nice to have a reminder. :)

  • jennie otanicar - Thanks for reminding me what matters!

  • amy - Thank you for this amazing post!!! it’s so encouraging. Ashley, but does your kid ever ask for time with you alone without other siblings in it? or do they fight over which book to read first etc? how do you handle it? I went crazy today because my older son wanted me to spend time with him to play racing car while my little daughter wanted me to play doll with her. after reading your blog, i would more cherish the time i spent with them.

  • Jeannette - Just today I told someone, I promised myself when Aaron was born, this time, I wouldn’t forget what he was like a newborn…only 7 months have passed and I already have faded memories. Makes me sad that I can’t remember it all – but I’m trying to just enjoy the present with all of my kiddos…so hard to stop saying “one more minute”!

  • Crystal - I’m so guilty of saying “just one more minute”. Thank you for this!

  • honeybeemama - yes, yes! i do try to make up for my, “just a few more minutes, honey”‘s by jumping right into them as soon as i’m done. as i was writing my post on how much the boys are enjoying their new dance class, i had my five year old begging me to get my tap shoes and come practice tapping with him in the garage. i typed as fast as i could to finish up so i could get out in that garage with him and it was WORTH it!

  • Jennie Frake - Well said.

  • Feelin Groovy. {The 59th St Bridge Song} » Jennie Frake Photography - [...] September 29, 2011 Just read a great blog post about “slowing down” over on Ashley’s Blog and can’t get this song out of my head. lalalala lala lala feelin grooovy…. Posted [...]

  • Selina - I needed to read that today. Thank you!

  • sarah - Fabulous!!!

  • Jackie Charlebois - wow… you are so right… i really needed to hear this too…now if only i could remember it when i am tempted to rush through life

  • Misty Waldenville - I’m just now reading this a day late, but I want to thank you for posting it. It seems like this was an overall theme for yesterday. I actually just posted this as my Facebook status yesterday: “Debating on folding laundry or doing a craft with Gavin today. My living room looks like the laundry monster threw up all over it but I know that both Gavin and I would enjoy a nice craft too. Decisions, decisions….”
    It sparked a conversation about being a stay-at-home-mom vs being a homemaker. Then I read your blog this morning. I nearly teared up. It just reminded me that life is too short and the innocence of childhood is even shorter. We didn’t end up doing that craft yesterday because we played outside instead but after reading this I’m just reminded that laundry (and a clean house for that matter) can wait. A few years down the line I won’t remember if my house was clean or dirty. The memories of spending time with my kids, however, will last a lifetime. Thank you so much for your blog, and most especially for this specific post.

  • Rachel - As I read this post, half nodding to something my three year old was saying, he took a marker and drew all over the living room carpet. Oh, the irony. Undivided attention means I should probably read your blog during nap time. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Jen - Wonderful post – thank you! My 2 1/2 year old mimics me by saying “jus a minute”. I need to change that. Thanks for inspiring me today!

  • Lori - Preach, sista. I am yielding to God and I’m yielding to advice ;0). I am calming my life down. Nothing matters more than family.

  • Molly - Crazy love, Ashley. You are such a gift.

  • weekends are for steeping » A Holy Experience - [...] for the Weekend : Just. this. post. That is all…. and then go find a big sycamore tree and share it with some people you [...]

  • Melissa - Hi there,
    I don’t think that I’ve ever commented on one of your blog posts and in fact, I haven’t even had time to check in with your blog for a few months. This morning I had a moment though, and I’m so glad I did! With a 5 yr old, 3 yr. old and 3 week old, on top of of a new move, house, school, kitchen and bathroom gut while living in said new house–I totally needed to read this THIS morning!
    Thanks for taking the time to write it. I’ve been struggling with living in the NOW when the now is often overwhelming! Thanks for reminding me to treasure it all and keep my focus on their need for me as I won’t have it for long!
    Thanks for the perfectly timed reminder,
    Melissa

  • Laura - That was really encouraging! Thank you for a new perspective on motherhood. :)

  • Katie - Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom! PSALM 90:12
    KSB

  • Jen - Oh – thank you SOOO much for posting this!! I really needed to hear it.

  • Jody - Do exactly what you are doing. My 4 are now 15, 17, 17, and 19, so no, they will not always be under your feet, they are a different kind of wonderful now, it’s great! What joyful blessings we have. God is so good! Enjoy this time!

  • Julie @ Wife Mother Gardener - That was a wonderful reminder to myself as well, being a mommy to three little ones.

    Thanks for taking time to put it in print. And your children are precious!

  • Jill - Best post ever. Thank you for sharing and for the reminder.

  • Backyard Quilt | Sarah C. Photography | Knoxville Wedding, Family and Senior Photographer - [...]  It stays folded up near the back door, ready at a moment’s notice.  Mom sent me a link to this post a few days ago, and it just reminded me that there will always be a to-do list.  Sometimes a to-do [...]

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