I remember being in your shoes like it was yesterday. Just yesterday I was struggling with little ones in strollers and car seats — tiny humans with an insatiable need for fresh diapers and clean clothes and nourishment. Just yesterday I folded laundry, nursed an infant, and caught up with my mother by telephone all at the same time. (Yes, this was possible, even before cell phones!) Just yesterday I lacked any hope for the opportunity to take a bath or read a book without interruption. Just yesterday I dreamed, and I mean fantasized, of the things I would do when today came.
I’ll spare you the “don’t blink” speech, because everyone keeps telling you that. In what seems like a pitifully short amount of time, all six of my children have become adults. There’s no stopping it, so here are five things I’d like for you to know.
1. Every little thing you do for your babies matters. Mount Saint Laundry may seem like a meaningless battle, but you are engaging in the people-building business, and our God recognizes and values every part of that.
2. Like childbirth itself, you will scarcely remember the tough parts of this season, but the precious moments will last forever. When a stomach bug or strep is ravaging its way through your household for the second time in a month, know that it’s the cuddles you’ll carry with you — and so will they.
3. Perfection is for pictures. You are going to make mistakes. Daily. As imperfect creatures, we simply cannot get past our human frailties. God is faithful, and if we press into Him, it is He who will work all things together for our good — and theirs! Always acknowledge your inadequacy and utter dependence upon your Savior, that they may recognize their own need for Him as well.
4. The future really ain’t bad! While I sometimes miss holding my little babies, I adore the joy of this season in which I’m living. There’s an entire area of the human heart that no one knows exists until he or she first holds that creature known as the “grandchild.” I am not grieving that my children are no longer little. Quite the opposite! By God’s good grace, I get to be a part of the lives my children bring into this world. All of the joy and little of the work…so precious and fun!
5. With six kids ages 19 and above, I have yet to do any of those things I’d thought I’d do when this day arrived. Nope! No long baths with a good book as of yet! In the same way that this season has brought unexpected joys, it has brought an entirely new set of opportunities to serve. Just this past Saturday as I spent time caring for my granddaughter, I had the privilege of helping the second in line plan his wedding. Throughout each day, my phone rings with this adult child or that one asking for advice regarding a job interview, a sick puppy, a parenting matter, or a recipe (which shocks you if you know me well). My children are scattered in five states as far west as Alaska and east as Massachusetts. While the nature of their need for me has changed, it has by no means diminished.
Here’s a little bonus for you: This is the most wonderful season of marriage I could have ever imagined. My husband and I cherish the time we are spending together, and enjoying our grandchildren together is an incredible reward for having not thrown in the towel during very difficult times. Time has gifted us with a sweet recognition of what matters and what is of little importance, not just today but forever. Beyond this, I’ve picked up things I had laid down in order to raise my kids, and have also taken up some new things. I’ve gone back to school, pursuing a desire birthed in high school to earn a PhD. I discovered the exhilaration of mountain biking just as I became a grandma, and oh, how I love the trails! Other “wellness” pursuits have fallen into place also, like juicing and essential oils, which has turned into a very profitable business! My husband and I have been freed up to turn our focus toward ministries like Kids Alive which serves children suffering from poverty, sex trafficking, war, and famine. (For more info on this, visit http://www.kidsalive.org.) The doors which God has opened are infinitely more meaningful and exciting than books and baths!
So, sweet mama, it’s okay if you blink. Tomorrow will bring joys of its own! The same God of grace and mercy who is with you today is already there in the tomorrow.