How do we cherish our families? Part of it comes in learning to see the beauties hidden in the small moments of life. So I’m very excited to introduce you to my dear friend Darcy Wiley — a great cherisher of moments. Darcy blogs over at Message in a Mason Jar and is “Mom” to three kids.
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Darcy, tell my readers a bit about yourself!
Thanks for hosting me, Kelli. It’s a joy to be at your place today. I always say I’m a world traveler turned stay-at-home mom. I try to go about my domestic life with the same eye for discovery that I had during my decade adventuring abroad. The kids definitely keep things fresh. The world is an amazing place when filtered through the lens of a 6-year-old boy, an almost-4-year-old girl and their baby sister. We love to ride bikes, do gardening, read books, go creek stomping, and lots of other things. Full-time motherhood is a pretty amazing gig when you think about it. I take a lot of pictures, but my real favorite way to gather mementos and to process a meaningful experience is in the written word. Right now, I’m in a catch-22, where the kids give me all kinds of material but often my work of caring for them leaves me with very little time for writing a complete piece.
As you reflect on the last few months, what has God been teaching you about cherishing your family?
I’ve been learning how love needs space to flourish. To me, that means clearing the schedule as much as possible to allow for unexpected challenges and to allow time for interacting without the grumpiness that hurry brings. Sometimes it makes people uncomfortable that I say no to a task they think I should volunteer for. But anytime I’ve given into false guilt at the expense of my family’s sanity, I’ve regretted it.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about the pull between my two callings of parenting and writing. A few weeks before my daughter was born this spring, I had put a lot of creativity and time into the Take Heart series on my blog. As much as I loved that, I found myself surprisingly excited about being forced to slow down on posting in order to focus on the intense neediness of a newborn. It has been a re-centering time when I felt the privilege of tending to my flesh and blood as my first priority. In fact, as much as I want to share my thoughts and feelings and writing pieces with a greater population someday, I feel the Lord often reminding me that these children are the masterpiece I’m sending out into the world.
It’s so easy to take loved ones for granted. Cherishing them is a choice! What are some ideas you have for concrete ways women can cherish their families?
I think it’s important to spend time having fun as a whole family unit, but also to spend time one-on-one with each family member. I begin with my husband. While it’s hard for us to get out for date night as much as we’d like, we’ve recently started a habit of reading novels together a few evenings each week. That simple interaction has made me feel connected with him in a whole new way as we step back from our parenting and task modes to experience a story together, hear each others’ voices, and spend time flipping the pages of a real book.
With my very verbal 6-year-old, my husband and I have been taking turns laying down with him at night and being quiet to allow him space to speak as he pleases with our undivided attention and no shushing (a wonderful strategy encouraged by his teacher). I also try to take him out on fun excursions away from home (since I tend to be distracted by all of the housework that needs to be done). Our favorite outing is going to the pet store to cuddle with the puppies. Pure elation. With my 4-year-old daughter, I enjoy simple things like brushing her hair and having her brush mine. Now that her hair is finally getting long enough, I’ve started french-braiding it, something I loved for my mother to do to my hair when I was growing up. Other times, I will write on my to-do list to play doll house or sing and dance with her during the day. Putting those things on the list affirms that play and interaction with my kids is a worthy priority.
I am very big on eye contact and physical affection and “I love you,” things that were sometimes awkward for me when I was growing up. I also like to write about my kids, or write to them, to capture these fleeting moments of close proximity of parent and child. Soon after I brought my littlest one home from the hospital, I was laying there nursing her and watching my husband nap and I just felt this rush of simple love spread warm over my skin. I think often of what a privilege it is to pull another human being so close and the bittersweet reality that as these little ones gain more independence, this level of physical closeness will lessen. The fact that they’re growing day by day and slipping from my cradled arms helps me cherish these moments all the more.
Family life is amazing — and also really, really challenging. It can bring out the best in us . . . and the worst. How have you felt personally challenged in family life? And how has God helped you make it through the tough times?
I tend to shut down emotionally or let my temper flare when I’m under a lot of pressure or when the kids are demanding too much of me. In those times, I have to remind myself of the truth of Scripture that “He will gently lead the nursing ewes,” and how the widow of Zarapheth’s jars overflowed when she gave the last of her supply to God’s work. I often quote my own paraphrase of II Corinthians 9:7, “Let each mother determine in her heart what she will give, not reluctantly or from compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
I thrive when I plan gifts or activities to intentionally show my love, keep the schedule as loose as possible to allow for more tender moments, call my husband or friends when I need to have someone cheer me up, and am honest with the kids about my limitations. I think when they see me as a real person with my own needs/desires of finishing a task before helping them find their Lego piece, or needing a few minutes of quiet to cool down, or even saying I’m sorry when I’ve lost it (and receiving grace!), helps them to develop empathy for others and pick up on healthy ways to deal with stress.
What role does family life play in your postings on Message in a Mason Jar?
Message in a Mason Jar is all about finding the loveliest things in the most ordinary containers. Most days, the ordinary container is my home. I know I’ll have other things to write about when this phase is past, but for now I write a lot from the angle of mothering my little ones through childhood and the joy of hearing their fresh insights as they interact with their Creator and His creation. It’s my hope that the view from my corner of the world will help someone else see the glory of God in plain places and consider their own everyday life in a fresh way.
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Thanks so much, Darcy! Friends, find out more about Darcy below. Be sure to check in over at Message in a Mason Jar for some beautiful insights and refreshing moments.
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Darcy Wiley is a world-traveler turned stay-at-home mom, and a writer married to a literary agent. She writes to preserve everyday mercies and wide-eyed wonder at Message in a Mason Jar. Come on over and join her in finding the loveliest things in the most ordinary containers. She’d love to connect with you on her blog, Facebook or Twitter.