The Heart of the Matter

Tina cropToday’s guest post comes to us from Tina Hollenbeck who serves with Dr. Kathy Koch at Celebrate Kids.  With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I believe Tina’s post captures the heart of every mom. 


A few days ago, my husband asked me what I’d like for a Mother’s Day gift. I knew he wanted to show his genuine appreciation and that my daughters would want to demonstrate their feelings in a concrete way, too. As is our tradition, they would each give me a sweet card sharing elements of their love for me and they’d take me out to lunch or dinner. But they wanted to present me with something tangible to mark the occasion as well.

And I felt truly blessed by his desire to bless me. But I didn’t know what to say.

A few things I could use or enjoy quickly came to mind: a new printer, a gift card to a local bookstore, a weekend retreat to catch up on my scrapbooking. But when I began to think about what I truly need as a mom, I realized it’s not something my family can wrap up and top with a bow. In fact, it’s not something they can provide at all.

Simply put, what I need most is an ability to focus each day on the heart of the matter in terms of my calling.

Motherhood is not about finishing the laundry or designing the most well balanced meals. It’s not about the 3,796 diapers a mom changes for each child. It’s not about the carpool or organizing memorable birthday parties. It’s not about volunteering in the classroom or finding the ideal homeschool curriculum. It’s not about enrolling the kids in extracurriculars and supplemental activities. It’s not about planning “perfect” family vacations.

Of course, all those tasks (and many more) fill our time. And each small job has value and purpose, demonstrating our love for our families in concrete ways. But if we focus on the utilitarian doing of motherhood without remembering to be in the moments, we’ll miss the point. We’ll spend our kids’ childhoods exhausted and bitter about all the time “they’re taking from us” and then wallow in regret once they’re grown. I know women like that; I never want to become one.

Instead, what I most need as a mom is a growing desire to be fully present with my kids – mentally and emotionally – moment by moment. I need my heart to be with them while my mind and body work through the necessary to-do lists. I need to notice the details as their faces change from those of girls into young women…to really hear their ideas and questions…to grasp the intricacies of how each is wired…to put down the work in order to hold and comfort them.

That’s not something my family can give me. It is God’s gift to me, ready and waiting. But accepting the gift is a matter of my will – each day and in each moment. That’s hard because life is so full and busy. But I know that’s the heart of the matter.

What about you? Do you agree with Tina that being “fully present” is a challenge for you? 


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3 thoughts on “The Heart of the Matter

  1. I really needed to read this today. This is exactly how I feel. I am a “doer” and I find it very hard to slow down sometimes. I have pledged this next year of my life to focusing on my home with no major outside commitments. I gave up my coordinator position with MOPS, and being the wife of a full time dairy farmer, I feel that just helping him is enough of a large commitment outside my normal mom duties. I want to be emotionally present for my kids and know their hearts. I want to be able to lead them on the path that is right. I get very scared and pray very hard when I see the culture around them that is trying so hard to steal the innocence of my children. This is such a great post. Thank you.

  2. I agree, but we have to be realistic too. We would all love nothing more than to have the luxury of sitting and staring at our children (other than while they sleep) and listening to every word, watching every nuance of change. Of course, we can all do a better job of slowing down and not taking our “tasks” so seriously, but we must release ourselves from the unrealistic expectation that if we only had the “will” to relax, we would be perfect. We wouldn’t be. The great thing is, grandchildren give us another opportunity.

    • Of course. That’s why I said that “I need my heart to be with them WHILE my mind and body work through the necessary to-do lists.” It’s not an “either-or;” it’s an “and-also” kind of thing.