Do you ever say something, out loud, and surprise yourself?
You discover, just as the words are falling out of your mouth, their truth and impact. They float there. Hovering around you.
And you cannot stop thinking about them.
That happened to me just before Christmas.
Family discussions this year centered around schedules and planning and menus. With Christmas Day on a Sunday, lots of folks needed to be serving at church. So trying to figure out various family get togethers around church offered new challenges.
My SIL and I were discussing potential options and schedules and I said these words,
“I don’t want to rush Christmas morning. I feel like I’ve only got about ten years left before my daughter decides she’d rather not spend Christmas with me.”
And there it was. This idea, this realization, my daughter’s childhood is on a timer. A speeding, unable to control timer.
I cannot get that thought out of my head.
Although, I’d change one thing.
Honestly, I suspect I’ve only got about six years.
My daughter. She changed my entire life. Most children do, I’m sure. But she came into the world nothing like what I was expecting, and yet, everything I needed. Not that my poor expectations are her fault. I had some really bad ideas and beliefs about children. She set me straight.
Pumpkin still very much wants to be with me. Cooking, grocery shopping, doing the laundry. A few weeks ago, she was lamenting no longer helping me with the house cleaning. She says, “We never clean the house together anymore!”
Most kids wouldn’t be complaining. Especially about missing out on the joy of dusting baseboards.
My quality time girl does.
Childhood is such a tiny, tiny amount of time. It doesn’t feel that way when you are a child but it sure as shootin’ does at the momma.
I am incredibly grateful for those words I said.
Over the past several weeks, I have found myself more aware of my children’s childhood. If that makes any sense at all. I’ve been “more” with them. More attentive to requests for my time. More receptive to “read another story, please.” More observant as they play with their friends.
For the first time, in a long time, I am being intentionally present with them in their childhood. We work to be intentional in teaching them about Christ and disciplining with grace and making sure homework gets done (regardless of whining). But I realize I have not been “with them” in their every day moments of growing up.
Someday, very soon, my kids won’t play for hours on end in my house or in my backyard. They’ll be out at friends’ houses or at practices or church events and I’ll be resigned to chauffeur. Until I lose that job too.
And at the end of this life here, I don’t want to regret not being aware and present, even though, as a stay at home mom, I am physically there more than not. I want my kids to grow up knowing their momma spent her time with them actually hearing them instead of just listening. Being a student of them, their personalities, their needs. Lovingly guiding them in grace and love and inviting Jesus into our struggles instead of pretending they have the ability to change apart from Him.
If I can do that, at least more times than not, then my kids will grow out of their childhood and leave me behind knowing I gave it my best. Ultimately, their free will and God are much stronger than I and my parenting wins or failures. But I can give my best (and will be held accountable for) mothering I provide in these few, precious years.
Thank you, Father, for those words. Nothing this impactful comes from me. They came from you. You altered my thinking and you have kept them on my mind. I know you love my kids more than I do and for that reason, you gave me the wake up call I needed to love them better. Your kindness never ceases to amaze me.