Tindell Baldwin »

My kids are still asleep on this quiet morning and as I read my devotional, drink my coffee, and look at my house cluttered with toys I wonder why I cannot just be content? It’s a beautiful mess, in all the truest senses, the clutter, the toys, the artwork drawn by tiny hands, and yet something inside me tells me I need more. It’s the voice that begs me to feed my ego and compares my list of accomplishments with my favorite authors. It’s the voice that reminds me each June just how many years have passed since I put a book on the shelf. It’s the voice that shames me every time I walk by my computer and there aren’t another 500 words hammered out on fake paper.

There is another voice though, the one that confidently tells me “this is it” when I’m sitting on the floor doing puzzles and reading with my kids. The voice that whispers “this doesn’t matter” when I am rushing my kids out the door and barking because we are 5 minutes late for something. There is a voice in the night that reminds me that my salvation is worked out through fear and trembling not a list of accomplishments. (We insomniacs hear best at night)

It would be so much easier to have the stuff though. To have the accolades and progress reports and I beg of God, can’t I just have it all? I know my heart is in the wrong place though, my desires are jacked up by selfish ambition and a desire to prove my worth.tbell

My 3 and ½ year old, Claire, is into everything princess and fairy. It’s terrifying. Being raised in a house with three brothers this phenomenon is a whole new terrain for me. It must be princess everything, songs, dresses, shoes, right down to her underwear. She’s committed I’ll give her that. However since most of the Disney movies involve some horrifying witch or parent death we have landed on the tinker bell movies and a heavy dose of frozen to get us through the obsession.

Tinkerbell has taught me a lot though (they say God works in mysterious ways) as a fairy she is assigned a talent based on what she is good at. She is a tinker, which means she builds (go with me here) it’s pretty unglamorous.. Imagine engineer but without the cool pocket protectors. She fights against her talent because she wants a fancy one like her friends. She wants to make flowers grow or teach baby birds to fly, she wants to control the wind, or harness the light for the fireflies but she is left in the tinker hole creating baskets and coming up with trinkets. She tries all her friends’ talents thinking surely she got hers wrong and she’s awful at them. Then she stumbles back to her own dejected and frustrated. Spoiler alert though she saves spring and realizes her talent is awesome.  I watched with Claire and couldn’t help but feel complete empathy with Tinkerbell (yes you read that right).

I want a prettier talent. I want my mission field to be out of my home and in the world, and it is sometimes, but the majority of my time and my love is spent inside this home on these little people and one big man. What I really want though, and what Tink (thats her nickname) wanted too, it to be seen and noticed and praised for a beautiful gift instead of being behind the scenes tinkering away. As a mom you are a tinker, working behind the scenes making everything work often unnoticed and underappreciated.  So sometimes I want a glittery calling, one that puts me in board rooms and meetings and gives me bonuses that tell me I’m awesome. I picture working life to be more like netflix than real life, I know this illusion would fail me. However, I have a toddler who stumbles downstairs every morning and tells me oatmeal is cold and she doesn’t like what I have planned so my illusions whisper the lies my heart wants to hear.

The thing is though,  I don’t want to be the woman I was before I had my kids. I have learned more in my almost four years of trekking through motherhood than I did in almost 25 years of life. God has grown me in ways that I never imagined possible. I am more humble, kinder, and gentler (still have a ways to go but I have time) than I ever was before kids. I also realize how little I know and I how much I need God. Like every day I need him. The glittery wears off, the shine of worldly pleasures fade, but nothing compares to being faithful in the journey God has called you to. 

I was having this same conversation with a friend recently and she pointed me to Present over Perfect by Shauna Nyquist and I was caught by this profound truth, “It’s easier to be impressive to strangers that it is to be consistently kind behind the scenes. Sometimes, brave looks boring, and that totally, absolutely, okay.” Its brave to say this is all I can handle right now and to hell with what the world tells me. Its brave to say I have just enough and don’t need more. Dare I say it’s brave to be utterly content when you’ve done nothing else but feed little mouths, nurture little souls, and pushed tiny bodies for hours on the swing? Maybe this is my best work. Maybe it’s the best story I’ll ever write, and just maybe I will realize it wasn’t actually boring at all… it was really brave.

  • Katie Bulmer - I love your writting Tindell! I’m so glad to connect. Yes we truly do have similar stories. I even grew up in Atlanta too! I’m sure we have friends in common. I am so thankful both of our hearts are now to help young women avoid the mistakes we made.

    I have heard such great things about your book. I’m working on my first one now! woo hoo!ReplyCancel

The light in the closet is out, I muttered to him while getting ready for bed. It’s really my most glorious time of the day, I’m exhausted, my belly is huge, and everything hurts from the growing human inside me. I’m a downright joy to be around (not). I don’t even know if he heard me because I complained about how many times I pee at night immediately following my light complaint.

Then tonight as I went to go to bathroom for the 17th time I flipped on the closer switch on by habit and realized the light came on. Ben was already peacefully asleep (one of our many differences) and I smiled and couldn’t help but think this was what 7 years was.

At year one you want elaborate dinners and flowers for no reason (ok I still want that sometimes) but you think that is love, grandiose gestures. You think love is purchased or proved by things and tripsceremony-18.

Years 2-4 you’re working through all the hiccups year one brought, fighting styles, communication differences, expectations that went unmet but you’re also still newlyweds. You take fun trips, explore new cities, and treat your dogs like they are children instead of pets. You find couple friends and do activities that start at 10pm, something that you never realize will be a thing of the past once you have children.

By year 4 you have your first baby and it’s all new again. The love for your family, the emotional highs of love for your spouse and this new little one. Everything has a shiny new edge on it. Holidays are a little more special. Family pictures now have a baby instead of a dog. Trips become less and dates become the survival food you feed your marriage. It has its challenges and in a way you have to learn how to be yourselves again once this person has joined your home but you work through it, fight through it, and laugh when it all seems so hard yet beautiful.IMG_2404 - Version 2

5-7 you continue to add on. In our case two more kids and settle into a rhythm of chaos. Happy hour is now the time you sit on the porch after all the kids have gone to bed and wonder if you’ll ever get to sleep through the night and how you will pay for college. You work through parenting differences and money qualms. Even less trips but when you get to leave for a few glorious days you act like teenagers who just got released from parental supervision. You laugh out of sleep deprivation and pure ridiculous of what your life is now. You reminisce about the days of freedom but know you wouldn’t take them back. You wonder why you didn’t accomplish all your dreams while it was only the two of you. You stare at the clock begging for it to be the kid’s bedtime only to look at pictures of them and laugh at whatever funny thing they did or said that day. Each day is a little bit like hitting repeat but before you know it a year has passed and you have another full set of memories. Life isn’t slowing down so you learn to enjoy the ride and slip in the occasional weekend away to recharge and remember where you were steering this boat in the first place.

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Then year 7 hits. This dreaded year that has been deemed “the breaking point of marriages.” You look at it square on the laugh because you feel the same love about a light bulb being changed than you did about the flowers a few years ago. You laugh at the 7 year struggle because you can see how truly lucky you are.

In year one you said you were lucky because you were married and you checked all the boxes but by year seven its love that’s seen counseling rooms, doctors’ offices, and delivery rooms. It’s the love that’s held you hand for your first baby and wept tears of joy as you brought a tiny person into your life. It’s a love that’s weathered stomach bugs and fights about laundry and eye rolls and nagging and the real every day. It’s the love that grabs the kids in bear hugs and tells you to sit down and relax when you’ve almost reached the breaking point. It’s the love that’s on your side when the world around you feels like its crumbling. Is the love that holds you close and tells you that it believes in you when you are scared of failing. It’s the love that’s walked a crying newborn around for countless hours in the dark so you can sleep. It’s the arms you’ve wept in when life truly disappointed. It’s the love that has sat in front rows and cheered you on. It’s real. It’s messy. It’s respected and deep. It’s real.

It’s that simple profound servant love that Jesus told us we would need in marriage. It’s the love that changed the light bulb, a thousand diapers, and promises to hold your hand through whatever comes next.

So bring it on 7 years. Do your worst.

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  • Ashley Zobrosky - Love this and can totally relate… Just celebrated 7 years of marriage in June!ReplyCancel

    • Tindell Baldwin - Congrats! Year 7 will start off with a bang for us but hopefully slows down after baby comes 🙂ReplyCancel

I told Claire recently that I had three brothers and she looked at me wide eyed and said “wow mom that’s kinda crazy.” It was crazy but also so fun. Partly because of how different and yet similar we all were. Kristian the kind dreamer, Taylor the disciplined fun loving athlete, me… well lets not go there, and Brett the sweet complaint gift to my parents. We all just worked, sure we fought and sure every year my mom asked for the thing for mother’s day, just one day where we didn’t all fight. But mostly we just really respected each other. I looked up to all my brothers (even though Brett is technically younger). The greatest part is over the years we became true friends.

Taylor and I were closest in age and the most likely to get into trouble (although Kristian and Taylor had a few brilliant ideas… like shooting100_0031each other with BB guns at my grandparent’s house) , only two grades apart and barely two years. We were in school together most of the time and I always admired his ability with people and his downright commitment to whatever he was doing. We are still so opposite, I dream big but have a hard time putting my words to actions while Taylor just commits and runs full force into it.  While Taylor didn’t end up employed by a church or on a stage
he has a ministry of his own in his financial planning career, in his love for each and every neighbor, and in his serving his friends and family with love, grace and commitment. I’ve never met anyone that can be the same after truly knowing Taylor. Some people just change you for the better.

Almost three years ago Taylor and Sally came to the family and told us that they had decided to adopt. It’s something that had been growing in Sally’s heart for a while but Taylor was unsure then one morning he heard God ask him, “did I delay in adopting you.” Beautiful. They are currently adopting internationally and after many circumstances and law changes in other countries they have settled on China. It’s been a beautiful experience to watch them pursue Gods next step through for their family. There has been a decent amount of heart ache mixed in with the joy as the process has unfolded but their unwavering faithfulness to what God has called them has been inspiring to say the least.

This weekend is Taylor’s birthday and along with his many other God given gifts Taylor is a runnerehearsal-129r. He ran the Boston last year at a pace that I couldn’t even keep on a quarter mile run to the donut shop and for his birthday he has decided to run 32 miles (one for each year).  His run is to raise awareness for their adoption and also to invite people into their journey. Its very unofficial and fun and really an invitation to be a part of their child’s journey home.

You can find out more here

https://www.purecharity.com/stanfill-family-adoption-1/updates

I couldn’t be prouder of my brother. I couldn’t be more eager to support them (from the sidelines luckily 37 weeks pregnant gets you out of running… ben however didn’t get so lucky) and I couldn’t be more excited to watch this journey unfold. We are living in a time when the darkness feels overwhelming, there is still light though. There are still people doing good and loving others well.

Thank you Taylor for always inspiring me to be a better lover of people. Thank you for loving me so well no matter where I was on my walk with God and mostly thank you for being obedient to God and letting us be a part of your journey.  We can’t wait to meet the newest cousin!

PS if you are feeling like less of a person after reading all of that scan some of my other posts, my brothers awesome but I’ve done my fair share of screwing up 😉

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Proverbs 17:9

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.

Why is it so humbling to have to ask forgiveness from my 3 year old? Maybe it’s because I’m supposed to be the one teaching her about forgiveness instead of asking her to extend it. Maybe it’s simply that my pride is too large and when her big hazel eyes fill with tears and her lip quivers I feel like such a failure at my “job.” Then I get on her level and tell her mommy screwed up and I’m sorry, will she forgive me, and I can see relief flood her face.

Forgiveness is so necessary if I’m going to repair the damage my words can cause and not just with her but with any relationship. As a Christian I always knew it was my job to forgive others but in parenting I learned it was even more important to ask for it as well. Will you forgive me takes ownership instead of giving an excuse and so often when we are hurt we want someone to own their piece of our pain. It doesn’t make it all better but it does build a bridge over a conflict. It frees us up to move forward in the relationship.

Ben and I had a hard first two years of marriage, there was lots of stuff going on back in Atlanta and I was angry that I wasn’t closer to help. I was also 22 and had to grow up fast. We didn’t have friends for a long time (and I didn’t have a job) while we were in Houston and instead of being a mature adult and making the best of it I lashed out at him and was pretty awful. I regret so many things I said and he was patient and loving in a really hard time.

I recently realized that I had never asked him to forgive me for handling this time in our marriage so poorly. There wasn’t any residual damage for the most part but something was pulling at me to ask him to forgive me. I just wanted him to know I regretted the way I treated him. So on a date night maybe a month or so ago (you know 5 years after the fact) we were sitting in a dairy queen (because I’m prego stop judging) parking lot after dinner enjoying our blizzards and I let go of my pride and just asked him to forgive me.

I think he thought it was a little silly but he said later it meant a lot that I would simply ask. I knew he didn’t really need it but I needed him to know I was sorry and I wanted him to have the choice. I am a pretty passionate person (read dramatic) so I can get fired up about things pretty quickly. One time ben told me that I wasn’t always great at holding my tongue but I was great at apologizing.  I’m trying to be better at holding my tongue but until then I will keep apologizing and asking forgiveness.

Motherhood requires a lot of forgiveness, both in extending and asking, to our spouse, our kids and ourselves. It’s tiring, thankless, emotional, and beautiful. I have found though that with my kids, especially my tenderhearted oldest, when I will look into their eyes and admit my wrong and ask for forgiveness we can move forward. It sends the message that we are all in this together. This messy beautiful life. Just like there are no perfect kids, there are no perfect parents as well. Extending grace is a learned skill, luckily my kids will get plenty of practice.

Romans 4:7

“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight.

I keep thinking about this MTV program I watched one summer when I was in high school, it was an entire hour devoted to one hit wonders. These bands and singer/songwriters who had a song that set records on the billboard charts and then miserably failed at any attempts to do so after one. I’m sure they dreamed of being the next Beatles, NYSNC if you were a child in the 90’s, or whatever idol they had. They probably had people around them telling them that this was it, they were going to make it, and real success was just around the corner. I always thought it was interesting that they were never known for the one song they did so well with but rather the many after that never succeeded.

I think the longer we live the more we can think our “one hit wonder” has already happened. We’ve peaked, opportunities have dried up, and God is done with us. So we stay stagnant in our faith convincing ourselves that God has already completed his good work in us.

When we are young and fresh in our faith we wait expectedly for what God will do in us, we sit on the edge of our seats in pews and rows and beg to be used. Then we get older and I think we stop asking God and start just begging him to keep us and the ones we love out of the line of fire. We almost ask him not to use us. I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed for protection over my family instead of asking God to use my family for his kingdom because the older we get the more there is to lose and the more there is to lose the less we trust God. Or that’s how I feel.

What I really remember about that one hit wonder show is that I didn’t want my life to end up like that, like someone who almost made it in what they dreamed of. Now disclaimer, back then I was dreaming of living in LA and being on the real world while wearing tube tops. However when Jesus found my wreck of a life at 19 all I wanted was to be used. I didn’t care how. I just wanted him. I wanted him to use me to bring other people to himself. Then I got married, accomplished a dream, had kids, and honestly stopped asking God to use me and started begging God to protect my family.

I had written my book. I had used my story. I had been obedient. Mike drop, I’m out and when that tiny voice whispered in my heart that he wasn’t done with me I told myself the stories of girls who had come to Jesus because I was obedient. Now, don’t hear me say that God asks all of us to the same thing, but obedience is a lifelong choice. Every day we wake up and decide who we will follow, who we will listen to, and who will influence us.

My main mission field right now is in my home and as cheesy as it is this is where God has called me. However I have not peaked, my kids will grow up, I will sleep through the night again (or so I’m told), and what will I do when I start to have some margin in my days? Will I turn back to God and ask what he wants of me or will I be glad that I already accomplished my one dream? Used by God… check… now I can live my comfortable life.

The thing is there is always opportunity, it surrounds us, even if your mission field is in your home. Our lives bump up against others all day long. This hit me the other day when I uttered “I grew up in a home where…” and I realized one day my kids were going to utter the same sentence and how will they finish it. I know how I want them to finish it, I want them to say, I was raised in a home where God’s will wrecked our family in the best way possible, I want to be the most loving and God fearing home their friends have ever seen, I want our life to be an adventure towards whatever God has called us to. I know what I don’t want them to say and I know what will more likely be said if I’m not careful, I was raised in a home where God was like a celebrity, an empty cross on the wall, a bible verse over my mom’s desk, he was around but it wasn’t personal. The worst kind of God I could show my kids is a God who doesn’t change their life at all.

Not one of us are one hit wonders when it comes to God, I really believe he is always looking, always searching for a heart turned towards him and a prayer that simply says, God I am willing if you will only provide an opportunity. How much God would do if we just offer up a simple yes?

  • Stacy Freeman - Sweet Tindell, don’t ever think that having your mission field be your family is one bit cheesy. In my view, it’s the most important job you can do for the Lord. You and your husband are raising the next generation that will fight for God, the people who will take care of our world when can’t any longer. Your children will be offshoots of you (thank goodness!) and they will be a force for good because you did stay home and teach them right from wrong, what morals and values are important and how the enemy can be so sneaky that He can make our choices look like good ones, when they are only distractions from what’s truly important. If you never write another book, blog, newsletter, or whatever, you are still, and always will be used by God for one really good reason – you are a willing participant. And yes, members of your family may have troubles along the way, but that will be part of their journey with the Lord who is steadfast and who chose us from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith I. The truth. (2 Thess 2:13). Take care and rest your mind! StacyReplyCancel

Proverbs 18:21

The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

I remember after Claire turned two telling my hair dresser (cause that’s what the cool kids call them) I didn’t know why they called it the terrible twos, she’s a pretty compliant kid and has not caused a lot of trouble in her little life with the exception of the newborn stage. My hairdresser has older kids and laughed, and said “the twos are fine, it’s the threes you have to worry about.” I laughed her off and thought well at least I have a whole year.

Well we are three and half now and I guess she was right. Two was easy. Two was breezy. Two was beautiful. Three has been a beast of attitude and drama that I didn’t know you could find outside of reality TV shows. The hardest part, I miss my daughter, the buddy I had when times were simpler and every day was not a battle. I miss being a fun mom, not the angry fat one at the pool (I’m 6 months pregnant but fat sounds funnier to me).  I miss who we were. Now we are in the thick of it, dealing with the real issues, not just don’t touch the outlet kind of stuff but don’t punch your brother (I’m sure your kids don’t do that) because he has something you want. We are getting to the heart of the matter if you will, the why’s behind the don’ts, and it’s utterly exhausting.

To make matters more tiring nap time is nonexistent, which was my actual saving grace every day, and for the past week I have silently wept a little because I honestly don’t feel up for the task. I have been praying for God to change her heart but this morning I realized he needed to change mine. I have wanted quick fixes to life time problems, I have wanted discipline to result in heart change, but heart change takes time, sometimes a life time. Heart change takes guidance not frustration. Each long day I keep singing that silly song in my head, “oh you can’t hurry love, no you just have to wait, love don’t come easy, it’s a game of give and take.”

We can’t rush motherhood. I can’t rush to the good part without first trudging through the swamps of threedom. I can’t make her understand the matters of the heart if I won’t take my time to teach and love her through it. In a way she’s doing exactly what she should be doing, she’s being a kid, and she’s asking me to teach her (in not so many words) and I have a choice, will I rage like the hulk and bring death with my tongue or will I love as God loves me, patiently guiding and discipline in love nudging her to be the precious daughter God made her to be?

I admit I’ve been more hulkish lately, I have missed opportunities to take her in my arms and just tell her I love her even though she’s being difficult. Each time I have walked away and heard God whisper to my heart, “is that how I love you?” No. it isn’t. Consequences are unavoidable if you disobey but my relationship with her should never be up for grabs. I don’t want her to ever wonder if she crossed the line beyond what my love can bear. If I am sending her a message like that then I am not pointing her towards Jesus. I don’t have any illusions that I will be perfect but she needs to understand that God loves her no matter what, just as he does all people, and if she doesn’t think I love her no matter what why would she think a perfect God would?

So I will stop rushing this thing, I will take the time to teach when I want to scold, I will hold her when I want to walk away, and I will expect her to be three. I will find ways to look at the good and not focus on the bad. I will ask forgiveness when I get it wrong and I will send her a message of love instead of one filled with disappointment.

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.

James 3:17

  • Alayne Blankenship - Thank you for this!! I so needed it! I have three and half year old b/g twins and I feel like all I do is referee, warn, yell, and dole out consequences all day, every day. Then the mom guilt suffocates me at night once they are finally asleep and I come face to face with the fact that my actions were mostly fueled by anger all day, yet somehow I find myself right back at my wits-end before breakfast the next morning. It’s a vicious, exhausting cycle. God has really been speaking to me that my mommy heart needs a change. If I’m going to bring them up in the ways of the Lord, then my eyes must be fixed on Jesus. I must love them like He loves me. “Heart change takes guidance, not frustration.” Convicted my heart!

    Hosea 10:12 NLT, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’ReplyCancel

    • Tindell Baldwin - You’re most welcome, sometimes its just nice to know other people are struggling in the same way. Hang in there, motherhood is no joke and that is a great verse!ReplyCancel

I don’t travel outside my tiny world much these days but on the rare occasion I am at some social function with just Ben or meeting people for the first time there is a question that makes me panic, “So what do you do?” Mostly because I find myself answering the same way every time, “I’m just a mom, but I used to be….”

Ah the “Just.”

What do so many of us feel the need to dumb down our lives with a word that makes whatever we do feel so much less significant? Maybe its culture, and honestly Christian culture especially, measures the value of our lives by the number of things we are juggling. I often hear as a women the message that I must do more. I must manage my live like a well pinned board on the internet that looks neat and clean and pretty. Especially pretty.  I would say men feel this tension too but my husband seems content with a pretty demanding job plus being a very involved father, I have yet to hear him say “just” when talking about his roles.

I met a friend at the park recently and we hadn’t caught up in way too long. I lost touch with a lot of the outside world for the first year after Briggs was born. I was asking her how life has been and what she’s been doing and she looked at her three year old bounding across the playground at her and said, “I’ve been doing this, I’ve been trying to do this really well.” She was almost ashamed, like that wasn’t enough, like she should be bringing baked goods to friends or crafting wreaths that make her front door look inviting in her spare hour a day before she collapses into bed in exhaustion. I told her you go girl, because I’m super cool like that, and genuinely understood what she meant.

There is no reason to water down what we do with the word “just” whether its “just” being a mom, or “just” being a college student, or “just” having however many little people, or “just” volunteering at the local church, or “just” being a good wife, of “just” an assistant, etc etc etc. What we do will not be measured by the titles we held but the people we impacted and loved well. I might “just” be a mom right now and that might mean writing gets put on hold and I don’t take all the opportunities that come across my plate but my title means a whole heck of a lot to two tiny people currently resting quietly (so I’m thinking nicer thoughts about them than between say the hours of 5-7). I have learned what my threshold for chaos is and I like to stay somewhere between “I’ve got this covered” and “I might lose my mind at any moment.” I hope one day I have a threshold for more, and I believe I will, but not today and probably not for a few years if I’m honest with myself. And that’s ok.

We are so used to seeing women in social media who have gorgeous houses, neatly dressed kids, and a side career that is a combination of both demanding, impressive, and puts her three littles in private school. Look I’m not knocking it but I also know that’s not reality for everyone. Sometimes its survival and your job is just ok, or your kids are just kind of clean, and your house… well it has enough baskets to mask the mess. Each of us is uniquely gifted to do something. That means our lives will look different and our metaphorical plates will be filled with different things. I think we should change not only our language but how well we measure our success. A friend told me tonight that she heard Jennie Allen say on a podcast that her idea of success was “being obedient to God.” That was it.  It might not be the corporate chain or maybe it is.  It might be the way we love our neighbors, it might not be how clean our kids clothes are but how intentional we were with our time with them, and then we can run our own race with our own titles and feel totally fine to say, I am a (fill in your own title) and its great. No just. No justifying and no shame if you wish you could do more but you JUST can’t. I am being obedient to the one who called me, the one who gave me what I have, and that is success.

“The master was full of praise. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

Matthew 25:21

“Mom are you going to put me to bed tonight?”

Every night I am home I get this same question, right around bath time, and after we have eaten. I can never understand it. She has been with me all day. With the exception of preschool, our days together go pretty uninterrupted. So why every night does my little girl, going on four, want to know if I am going to put her to bed? My husband is by far the more fun parent, often making up stories and taking extra time for cuddles. His time is precious and limited, and she should want him. She has such a sweet bond to him so I couldn’t figure out why the bed time question every night. We alternate nights so that my son and daughter both get equal tucking-in love, and on the nights it is my turn to put her to bed she cheers in delight. It has puzzled me.

Then this weekend, as I spent my ample airport time reading a book called Hands Free Mama I realized why. For all the “time” we spend together this is one of the only times my phone is placed far away. Bedtime is our time. We talk, read, and I scratch her back and sing the same Christy Knockels song that I have sung to her since birth. It’s called “For Your Splendor,” but she has renamed it”the deep end song,” and she begs me to sing the same chorus (to go ahead and answer the question, no I don’t sound like either of my brothers). Recently my husband tried to sing it to her, and she turned to him with an indignant voice and said “you don’t even know that song.” It was special. This is the time of the day I put away everything else for her, and I tell her not-so-subtly that for a half-hour I am choosing her.

It saddens me to my core when I realize that the reason my daughter has been begging for my attention at bedtime is because I have been spending my days wrapped up in things that matter far less. I have always been a person who likes to accomplish things, and the hardest part of staying home is my accomplishments cannot be measured when it comes to my children. I can do everything right, and they can still hit another child on the playground, pick a fight with their sibling, or speak disrespectfully to an adult. Motherhood cannot be measured, BUT you know what can? Emails, laundry, dishes, full calendars, cleanliness, trash emptying, words on pages, speaking engagements booked, and so when my husband arrives home from an engineering job I barely understand, I can feel like less of a bum because I did the laundry (it’s a rather complicated process). However I have been missing the real reason I wanted to stay home in the first place. I have been putting my kids’ hearts on hold in an attempt to feel better about my insecurities of accomplishing.

My daughter’s bedtime pleas have been nothing less than smoke signals to let me know that she needs me. Suddenly moments I have missed come flooding back to me: my son toddling up to me and saying “mama up,” my daughter asking me to color with her, my son begging me to do bubbles, the 1000 times I barked that we were going to be late, the messes I wouldn’t let happen, and for what? For a cleaner house, a more booked schedule, and less contentment?

I was crying to my husband the other night (hormones) that I have been feeling so discontent, so restless, so useless, and so inadequate in my current role. I have actually wrestled with the idea of getting a job because it feels like I am currently failing at the one that is most important to me – my family. I have blamed everything from hormones to summer to staying home without looking at the reality, that I am fully to blame. I have been choosing lesser things. I have been choosing distractions over my children. I have been holding my phone to my face, and begging it to give me significance.

We are in this short season of summer that will end in a time when I can’t come play because I have to nurse or hold a crying baby. This will be the last season before we add another, and I have decided to fully engage with my kids instead of biding my time until it gets easier (which I’ve heard is as mythical as a unicorn). It is hard, but it is also good. Almost everything worth having in life comes from hard work.

My impact on my kids’ lives starts today. It starts with saying “yes” to the things that feel less important and “no” to the things that don’t matter nearly as much. In what will feel like blinking I won’t be able to pick my son up anymore, and my daughter won’t want to put on shows where she dances around singing “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.” With each day my role in my kids’ lives slowly lessens, like sand slipping away one grain at a time, and if I’m not careful I will have missed all the days where they wanted me the most, and I was available the least. If I’m not careful I will be desperate for them to communicate with me only for them to say it’s too late. As our pastor Andy Stanley has said before when it comes to life, “the important rarely feels urgent and the urgent is rarely important.”

My kids are important but they are rarely urgent, except when my son throws himself from furniture… that feels urgent. Coloring pictures, building blocks, running in the sprinkler, playing pretend, and pushing my kids on the swing are not urgent tasks, but they are vastly important in my child’s world. Don’t get me wrong – I will still relish in those nap time hours and breathe a sigh of relief when they are both asleep. However I will choose them, when it’s inconvenient, when the laundry has piled up, when the bathrooms are dirty, and the dishes are stacked. I will choose them and tell them clearly that they are more important than social media, emails, and my free time. I will say “yes” instead of “no,” knowing that one day they will stop asking, and I will mourn it. Knowing one day this will all be over, and I will have to ask myself, did I really do the best I could in the years that were most vital?

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  • Caitlin - Thank you so much for this post, Tindell. I am a new mom and this is something I struggle with a lot. It is nice to get some encouragement from another mom who is a bit more seasoned (ok, going on 3 times more seasoned!) and has been though enough mom moments to be able to look back and learn something from them.ReplyCancel

    • Tindell Baldwin - Im sure you are doing a wonderful job! Motherhood doesn’t ease you in, it throws you right into the deep end. Glad I could encourage you and if it helps I don’t feel “seasoned” at all 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Ashley Zobrosky - Wow, I needed to read this!! Love it!!ReplyCancel

    • Tindell Baldwin - Thanks girl! You should read the Hands Free Mama book its so good.ReplyCancel

  • Julie Key - This was a wonderful reminder…our older 2 are 11 and 12 and I’m constantly struggling with, “Did I/have I done enough?” They are already spending less time asking for time with me, and I have a new resolve to fight for every moment! Great words, girl! Proud of you!!!ReplyCancel

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