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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  • Ryanne - Amen!

  • nicole - I love this and SO needed it.

    Awesome post.

  • Shannon Phillips - Our little camping trip taught me the same lesson. It feels like I have so much to get done before little baby girl arrives that I was totally forgetting how special and important our time with Keegan is while it is just the three of us. Thank you for reminding me of that.

  • andy - just what i needed to hear. thanks

  • Jennifer Allwood - Ugggggg…..i am so guilty of the same thing. God has really been convicting me of this lately. I need to give my kiddoes my UNDIVIDED attention more often. Grace to us!

  • cally - Shoot, I needed that.

  • Jess - Amen! And I soooo love that last photo.

  • Aaren - Thanks for this post…..I appreciate wonderful moms like you who are an inspiration to new moms like me. God bless.

  • Jill R - Beautiful post. Ironic, because I am feeling this very strongly in my own life right now. Savor every second!

  • Shea - Beautiful! Could not agree more! How precious is our “now”

  • Sarah - THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU…I soooo needed this post today. It brought tears to my eyes! I here myself saying just one more minute…i’ll color with you just as soon as i get these dishes done…guilty. I did this very thing last night and it hurt my heart to say it. I have been suffering from “mom guilt” really bad for a few weeks now. i keep telling myself i’ll slow down, i won’t take on so many projects, I’ll start enjoying my time, my life more; and everyday it’s the same thing. work, dinner, bed time, work, sleep, repeat. it’s time i say ENOUGH and start slowing down and enjoying the blessings God has given me. Thank you Ashley for the push.

  • Celia - That was so sweet. Brought tears to my eyes. Things like that… are how you know you are a good mother!!

  • Molly - Amen!

  • Barbara Janaina - Dear Ashley,
    this is true in every place of the world! Every day when I go to work and something make me fells that I had fail , I think about the one thing that I shoud never fail: my family! Then I realize exactly what you say above.
    Love your blog!
    Big hug from Brasil!

  • angie - this post = perfection.

  • Carrie - I have been pondering over the same thing – when I read things like this message it is another reminder to live in the day. The days are long but the years are short – so savor today. I love your mini live lessons – very inspiring!

  • colleen from alabama - So true. mine are boy-9 and girl-11. The moments i have now are holding hands in the dark laying on the bed with my girl at night, snuggling on our porch with my son for a few minutes before he goes to play with neighborhood kids, riding in the car with my girl on the way to volleyball… short, but still sweet. I treasure every single one, especially when after being chatty cathy in the car on the way to school, my middle school big girl looks at me and says, “mom, pleeeease DON’T wave at me as you drive off!” :) If only those other kids knew she still holds my hand!

  • Jodi - We just did this same exact thing on Monday. We enjoyed the outdoors and without prompt, my girls went inside and brought out pillows and blankets. I had my camera on me and we all laid down on the blanket. I took lots of photos of the girls relaxing and the view of all our beautiful trees. I too, thought it was nice just to sit there and “slow down”. Enjoy the moment!! Great post!

  • Mariah - sigh… me too, Ashley. Me too.

  • Dana L - i have felt that way so much lately! It’s crazy how your to-do list never ends. I heard some great advice that instead of staring at the daunting big to-do list that can paralyze us, write 5 to-do items on in index card for each day and get those 5 done and enjoy any extra free time you have. And before you know it you’ve completed 25 things at the end of the week!

  • giozi - Is a great place to stay relax time, picnic, whatever.
    I like your cushions :)

  • Megan - Great post! Love the little years :) Need to be reminded of these little gifts He has given us daily!

  • Danielle - Love.

    Just last week guess what crazy wild thing (albeit small thing) I did? I cancelled my call display/text/VOICE MAIL on my cell. It is amazing how that lightened those distractions away from the littles (hearing the beep like you said… someone waiting… pulling my attention… plus I really dislike phone tag. Clients can reach me through the website and they are welcome to call still, I just may not be available… email is enough to keep up with. I love my clients but I love my 4 kids more!

    Again… LOVE this email Ashley! Great confirmation for me.

  • cailan - Of course, this is exactly what I need to hear…and live.

  • Rebecca - Is there any mom out there doesn’t feel like this? The list will always be there the since of accomplishment to scratch something off will never feel as good as agreeing to cuddle with your kids.
    Great post. Thank you.

  • Anna Joy - Thank you for this reminder…I needed to hear it!

  • Amber Nielsen - This for me was such a wake up call post. I often find myself telling my kids “one more minute” or ” hold on” while I try to tackle all the things I need to get done and do. I need to start living this way, in a bad bad way. Thank you for this wonderful post. xo!

  • Robyn Lee - I need to remember these words when I become a mother one day. You’re an AWESOME mom and your children are truly blessed!

  • Lacey - Thank you for this … I find myself saying “Just a minute” so I can do something that is really very unimportant in the big scheme of things, WAY too often!

  • marcy - Thank you thank you thank you.
    (My last blog post was entitled “overwhelmed”… so I needed this!

  • Mary Kay Rott - My 5 kids ae 30, 28 (tomorrow), 23, 21, and 16….stop reading and go enjoy….

  • Cassie - Thank you for this. Thank you.

  • Nell - I love this post. I’ve been trying to slow down for a while now. It IS hard but it is worth it. :)

  • Andrea - Oh my goodness. I needed this post today. I was just saying in an email to my sister last night that I have a love/hate relationship with my work. I’m so grateful to be able to work from home and to use my education doing work that I enjoy–but I hate the constant tug I feel to be finishing up this or that instead of just being and doing with my children. It’s a constant struggle–but I want to do better. These sweet kiddos will be grown SO soon. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I think they reflect the feelings of so many of us; and you expressed them so eloquently.

    Time to go snuggle with my three-year-old:).

  • heather - that’s what i want, too.
    xo

  • Julie B - Yep! I can remember sitting with each of my babies soaking in that moment of them being so small, needing and wanting to be there with just me. It’s harder when they get older but it shouldn’t be. Everything can wait, they don’t care if you get the counter clean or fold that laundry. My girls love Pinterest. We look at fun crafts and party ideas together. How cool is that? The weather is so nice right now that I feel we must be outside as often as possible and some of that everyday gets neglected. Oh well!

  • LindaJ - Thanks!

  • emmybrown - thank you.

  • Kelli - Such a good idea! those pictures are precious!

  • Rebecca S. - Love this, Ashley. What a great reminder to me!

  • Lindsey G - I pray to have this perspective daily!! =) it is just so true! and something we cant get back! thanks for the reminder!

  • stacey - So true! I just wrote a similar post on this today…i have a feeling it’s something a LOT of mama’s are struggling with right now! thanks for sharing as always!

  • amber - Yes! Why do we make it so hard on ourselves? Those little faces should always be of utmost importance, so why does everything else seem more important?! Yuck, for sure. I won’t give up either! And, those pictures make me want to be outside curled up with a book:). Thanks for sharing this…

  • Andrea Sandifer - I loved reading your words today. It’s sooo amazing what God blesses us with, but sometimes we get so busy that we don’t even realize it or take the time to give thanks to God. And yes….I am most thankful for that sweet newborn smell…it’s truly from heaven!!

  • Christie - Oh Ashley, I love your blog. I love how inspiring you are. Thank you!

  • Tawnya - I truly look forward to your posts and am so encouraged to see another mom, follower of Jesus, being real, crafty, artistic honest, authentic, and striving to love and serve her family. THANK YOU for writing and sharing your heart and talents through your blog. Your site is truly refreshing and is a gem among a world of rocks.

  • Georgia - so true…so glad you get it now, those days are over for me…I am thankful that I understood it then as well…I failed a lot,too…I don’t remember any of the things that screamed for my attention now, but I remember the precious moments with my child.

  • tami - Thanks Ashley!

  • Sarah - Love Love this!

  • nicole - appreciated every last word of that. thanks!

  • 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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