how we spend our time: paying attention

ClockToday I’m delighted to welcome Ginny Kubitz Moyer to kick off this series with her new book Random MOMents of Grace. I love Ginny’s writing for the glimpses of God she notices in daily life. She is a perfect author to start us thinking about one important way we choose to spend our time as parents: paying attention.

Ginny’s book is all about paying attention to the grace-filled moments that spring up unexpectedly among parenting’s challenges. I love her elegant and wise writing, the everyday subjects she tackles in search of motherhood’s spiritual side, and her chapters that are short enough to read in one sitting when my kids are quiet for five whole minutes. Here are more words of wisdom from Ginny on how she spends her time:

1) What is one truth about time you have learned since becoming a parent?

They say that when you are the mother of small kids, the days crawl by, but the months pass like a shot. I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes it is so isolating to be at home all day with your kids, especially because there are periods of your life as a parent when it is simply too much of a production to get into the car and go anywhere. Those days can feel endless (except for naptime, of course, which moves at twice the speed of light.)

But now that my boys are six and four, I look at baby pictures of them, and I have to catch my breath because I realize how quickly the time has passed. We forget that when we see our kids every day. And the fact is that every phase of parenting has its challenges and its blessings. I’m not changing diapers anymore (thank you God!) but oh, I do miss that adorable baby-hair that Luke had, which stuck straight up as if he’d been playing with electricity.

So, as I write in the book, I’ve learned that I shouldn’t will the time to pass too quickly. When things are frustrating now, it helps to look at my kids and realize what I have now that I will miss in a year, or five, or ten. That’s a reminder to savor it.

2) What is one practice of using time well that you have developed as a mother-writer?

I love this quotation from the writer James Thurber: “I never quite know when I’m not writing. Sometimes my wife comes up to me at a party and says, ‘Dammit, Thurber, stop writing.’ She usually catches me in the middle of a paragraph.” I’m not quite that extreme, but I can relate.

Writers usually want large blocks of quiet time in which to sit down and write, and the reality is that when you’re a mom, you almost never have that. So a lot of what I do, writing-wise, involves letting things simmer in my mind or mentally trying out various adjectives or squirreling away bits of information to use later. This means I can write in the car on my commute to and from work, or while making dinner. If you think about writing as being more than just putting pen to paper or sitting in front of a laptop, you realize there is actually a lot of writing time during the day. Then the only challenge is to remember it all for later ….

3) What new insight about faith did you gain from writing this book?

All writers are people of faith, I think, because it takes faith to face an empty page. You need to have faith that you will be able to put your feelings or your experiences into words that other people will enjoy. I think it also takes faith to slog on through the writer’s block, those times when you feel like everything you are writing is about as exciting as a tax return, and why would anyone ever want to read it?

It was so thrilling to get the contract for this book, but at the same time, it’s a different experience to write when there is a firm deadline. Luckily, I’d been writing the book in bits and pieces for about two years prior to finding a publisher, so nearly all of it was already done. But there was still some work to do on it, and I found myself going on faith that the ideas would come.

I distinctly remember starting one chapter and writing a ways into it and thinking, “Oof. This chapter is not going anywhere. I should just abandon ship right now.” And then, about a week later, I revisited it, and guess what? I found that it was better than I’d thought, and I had some ideas about where to take it. It’s now one of my very favorite chapters in the book.  Sometimes, you just need a little distance … and faith.

4) What is your favorite way to spend time with your family?

Oh, so hard to choose!  I love the quiet weekend mornings when we’re all just hanging out in our pj’s.  I love going on trips where we are out of our normal element and we get to discover a new place or a new experience together.  It is so fun to play soccer outside, all four of us, on the front lawn (I am the least athletic woman I’ve ever met, and now I’m playing soccer?!?  Motherhood is so broadening.)

Most of all, I love hugging my boys.  There’s nothing sweeter.BlogTour_RandomMoments_FB (1)

Thank you, Ginny! Please visit Random Acts of Momness for the rest of Ginny’s Blog Tour over the next two weeks. And be sure to check out Random MOMents of Grace from Loyola Press, who has generously offered FIVE copies of Ginny’s book to readers of Mothering Spirit! (Full disclosure: they gave me a copy, too – but I was waiting to buy one anyway, so their generosity in no way influenced my opinion.)

To enter the giveaway for your own copy, leave a comment below. And if you’re inspired, share one way you try to practice “paying attention” in your daily life!

17 thoughts on “how we spend our time: paying attention

  1. I can certainly agree with what Ginny says about parenting. It wasn’t so long ago that our oldest child would spend all his time playing in his blue Little Tykes car and now he’s building a career. His seven siblings are following closely and quickly behind. As for blogging/writing, I agree that it takes faith to put your thoughts out on paper/internet and make them public for anyone to see. I blog for 2 Canadian Catholic websites and find it challenging to come up with content every week while working outside the home and meeting the needs of the family at the same time. Blogging is definitely my 9th child and like the other 8, I place it squarely in God’s hands.

  2. I read about Random Acts of Momness on the Loyola Press website yesterday. I opened the book on-line, read the first couple of pages and felt like someone was reading my mind! As a mother to 3 children, I could really relate to the part about wishing for uninterrupted prayer time! I loved Ginny’s writing style and am interested in finding God in all things- especially the day to day moments of motherhood!

  3. I am mother to a 19 month old with another little one on the way. These recent weeks have felt fast and furious. This past weekend it was just my daughter and me at home. It was a great time to spend quality time with her and take it all in, because I know in just a few weeks things will change around our household. I was really reluctant to buy a smart phone, but now I really love it, because I can just snap a picture when we are together and I can take that with me wherever I go. When I get the urge, I can pull up pictures and remember that moment. I love having images of her when I am away from her. It helps me pause and remember that as Moyer says this time passes so fast.

  4. I love the Thurber quotation. That could be me…and I’m not proud to say that, more times than I’d like to admit, it’s one of my kids saying, “Hello? Are you listening? No, you’re writing!” Or, if I trail off mid-sentence into a thought about what I want to write down, usually while driving, my son gets really annoyed!

    Great first day of the tour. Laura, I love your blog.

  5. I was sitting on the sofa the other day with my 11 year old daughter. She was doing her homework and complaining about Pre-Algebra. I looked down at the size 10 feet she had resting in my lap and remembered how not so long ago those feet were so tiny. Then she had an assignment for Faith Formation class to write about her Baptism. So out came the photos and back came the memories of that precious day.

  6. I try to “pay attention” in my daily life by inviting God in through prayer, reflection on what’s happening in my life, and journaling about these things. This process doesn’t always work, but I notice more now than I used to notice, so I call that an improvement.

  7. “Oof. This chapter is not going anywhere. I should just abandon ship right now.” And then, about a week later, I revisited it, and guess what? I found that it was better than I’d thought, and I had some ideas about where to take it. It’s now one of my very favorite chapters in the book. Sometimes, you just need a little distance … and faith.”

    That is the Holy Spirit working. Sometimes we need distance and patience to give the Holy Spirit time to work in us. I see the same thing at work. I try to plan ahead so I can have some space. Little things people say, a pinterest page that comes up, or an idea I see in my everyday life suddenly pops up that is perfect for what I am doing. Those are God moments that take distance/time to happen within us.

  8. I am excited to be a part of this. As I finish the ‘high school stage’ with my last child, I am constantly looking back. What a journey it has been with my 4 angels. The time does go by so fast. You touched on soccer in your first column. The one thing I would share is that I am glad my kids played sports. It allowed my husband and I to be more involved in their lives that we may have been. We’ve coached, sat on the sidelines, vacationed, took trips to the hospital, baked–all around their sports. We were there for every game. We were able to attend Mass in many different cities-a lesson our kids learned (you can go to Mass anywhere AND you don’t miss Mass on Sunday despite the sports). I too found the days long when mine were young but I wouldn’t trade staying home with them for anything!

  9. As an academic and a mom to an almost-2 year old boy, I appreciate the observation that writing happens in the background of life. Some ideas just seem to come together after percolating for awhile. Somehow while I’m playing legos or trains or belly-laughing with my son, the Spirit is weaving it all together. 🙂

  10. Thank you Ginny (and Laura) for sharing. Your thoughts on paying attention, as well as on finding time as a mom for writing, really resonated with me!

    One of the ways I have found that helps me pay attention better is keeping a Blessings Journal. Each night I write down just one page of blessings I feel at that moment – they can be anything from having a warm place to sleep, to my daughter’s long eye lashes; but most often they are moments, sayings or memories from that particular day. I am always amazed at how much more positive and at peace journaling in this way helps me feel, even at the end of a busy and often hard day, as well as how going back and re-reading previous entries from time to time really re-awakens those memories and helps me hold tight to where my kids are at and how much they’re affecting me, even as young as they are. I can’t wait to go back and re-read some of them when they’re graduating!

  11. As a mother of 3 girls (13,7 & 2) I’m often torn as to whom should I be paying attention to. With one getting ready for high school and one still in diapers, I feel rather lost but if I have learned anything so far from being a Mom it’s just keep trying and loving and God will see to the rest.

  12. Okay, don’t enter me in the giveaway! 🙂 — I just wanted to say that I’m so moved and inspired by reading everyone’s comments. Since my kids are young, it is great to get a window into the lives of moms with older children/teens … and I love hearing how other moms experience the writing/spiritual life. Thanks for all your comments and I hope to see you at the other stops on the blog tour. Blessings!

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