Make Room for What Matters - Written by Susie Aulisio.
Susie is a wife to Jeff and mother to three kids, Ava (13), Sarah (9), and Luke (7). She serves in Family Ministries at Parker Hill.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I spent most of my free time reading “What to Expect When Your Expecting” from cover to cover. I would close my eyes at night, or in the middle of the day back then, and envision holding my baby. My perfect, quiet, non-crying, good sleeper, happy, smiley baby. What was I thinking?!
Once Ava, my first-born, was here my world felt like it turned upside down. I hardly got any sleep and my quiet, happy baby was more like loud and cranky, and the smiles were most likely linked to gas! Just getting ready to leave the house was an ordeal. I would spend more time packing enough diapers, bottles, and extra outfits than the time I was out of the house. Why didn’t someone, anyone write a book on this?!
Becoming a parent is more than just the next phase in life. It is a change, a big change… a life change. Our routines are off, and our schedules are most often times thrown out the window. We have a beautifully created life fighting for all of our time and attention. It can become very easy to lose our focus in all of this. And when we lose our focus, we lose our priorities and what is most important to keep our lives and the lives of those around us peaceful, happy and in at least some kind of order.
I am here to tell you that I have survived. I am a mom to three great kids; Ava-13, Sara-9, and Luke-7, and a wife of 15 years to my husband, Jeff. Being a wife and a mom is the greatest gift I have been given. I have always felt it is our biggest role in life to lead our children in the right direction in this crazy world, and sometimes that may even mean we have to make our own paths.
Prioritizing, for me, was never about routines and schedules. Having a strict schedule was never my forte. In our home, it was always about what matters most in our lives; having peace, showing love, finding joy, securing positive relationships, and making sure our home and our community were safe places. Things, activities and people will always try to fight their way in and try to replace these fundamentals, but having these things in place first always seems to make room for the other less but still important stuff.
It’s easy to lose focus. We have so many things trying to grab our attention and cause us to lose direction. While raising small children, our minds can wander. And when our minds wander, everything else seems to follow. For me, staying focused is being thankful for all things, even the not so good things. Prayer has always been important to me. It is my quiet time, and my way of comforting and protecting my family. Start and end each day by thanking God for the many blessings in your life. When you focus on being thankful everything else will follow.
The relationships I formed in the church were and are still valuable to me as a mom. Giving up the 10am nap schedule on a Sunday was always a no-brainer for me. What I gained was so much more. I was surrounded by a community that offered wisdom, much needed friendships, and showed my family and I just how important it was to make this a priority in our lives. Because of this example, my children have remained connected in their own small groups on Sunday and my oldest even serves as a Crew member with her friends.
I never like to use the word “busy”. When I find myself saying, “I’m too busy”, I cringe and immediately try to change my words and my mindset. When you are too busy, you miss things. We have a saying around Parker Hill, “It’s just a phase, don’t miss it!”. Of course we would never dream of missing our child’s first steps, first words, or first day of school. As they grow their ‘firsts’ may look a little different, but are still worthy of positive attention. The first blanket fort they build in the living room on a rainy day, the first time you have to sop up all the water on the kitchen floor from your little one “doing the dishes”. Enjoy these moments together, make time to create them.
Priorities look a lot different for everyone. Sometimes priorities take the shape of calendars, timers or a set of rules. To me, priorities aren’t as tangible. It is my relationship with God that I hope I am mirroring to my children and others around me. It is investing in the lives of people that gives my family a community and it is having the joy and peace in our homes that comes with raising little ones and living in their greatest, and sometimes not so greatest moments. A book will never be able to prepare you for this journey of parenthood; but keeping your focus, staying connected and living an engaging life with your family is a great start. “It’s just a phase, don’t miss it”!