Sometimes it is the fleeting moments that are the hardest for me to enter into with my children (aren’t they ALL fleeting though?) ~ specifically things like reading books or imaginative play. Somehow I have always found it easier to incorporate my children into my world than it is for me to enter into their world. It’s difficult to remember that reading The Bobbsey Twins may be even more important than cooking dinner; playing “hide & tickle” may have more eternal effects than having freshly ironed shirts & folded socks; going on hikes in the woods may teach more important lessons than accomplishing page after page in certain textbooks. These fleeting moments of wide-eyed wonder and full-on joy are not always easy for me to grasp, they slip right through my fingers while I sit here saying “just one more minute” ~ especially as I look up and see that suddenly an hour has passed. An hour of my children’s lives that I will never get back.
I don’t want to miss out on reading those books, feeding those imaginations, tickling those round bellies, chasing those rippling strong legs, holding those tightly gripping hands, answering those never-ending questions.
My mom and my grandma are constantly reminding me of this quintessential poem (which applies to every child, not just the fifth, of course).
Song for a Fifth Child
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton
Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
So what are some of the ways that I have learned (and am continuing to learn…) to better embrace these fleeting moments with my children??
Going to the library.
It really helps to have new materials to keep minds engaged (especially Mommy’s…), to spur new conversations and new questions, so I try to keep our library bag constantly filled but also continually changing. Storytime at the library (I go to the preschool geared storytime, as it is sort of a happy medium for the age range of my kids currently) gives me an hour each week to simply sit with my kids and let someone else do the reading, and it inspires me in my own reading with my kids too.
After being at the library, we often have a good excuse to stop for french fries or milkshakes, errands at a grocery store where they have fun little cars attached to the carts, or a romp at a park. It is good to be faced with out-and-about things once a week. 🙂
Getting chores done consistently.
When I am consistently staying on top of dishes, laundry, cleaning, and other such piddly things that are basic necessities of being a housewife and homemaker, it is easier to be willingly interrupted. Doing the dishes takes less than ten minutes after each meal, but if I don’t stay on top of it, it can wind up being an hour if the sink is piled-high (same principle applies to other areas of my home work). Staying on top of my chores, and involving the children in it whenever I can, is a wonderful way to stay more consistently available to embrace fleeting moments with the little ones.
Being a homebody.
Being at home the majority of the time, not always on the run, gives me many more opportunities to slow down and embrace the kids and their lives.
Saying YES to my children.
When someone asks me to come play, to please read books, to sing songs, to go outside, to pull out board games or dance around being silly… saying yes is the best thing I can do. I don’t always do it… in fact, only about half as often as I would like to… but God is giving me grace and helping me grow this skill. With each year that flies by, I feel like I improve on saying yes to my children. May God grant me continued and deepened grace so that YES is my most frequent answer when these fleeting moments show up on my lap!
Embracing the day, or even rather, the hour.
Looking at the big picture is often overwhelming, even saddening. Embracing little moments as they come is not only more joyful for me but more profitable in the big scheme of things. It’s sunny? Okay, let’s go plant flowers and go on a walk right now ~ sweeping and ironing and changing bedsheets can wait for another hour. It’s rainy? Okay, let’s build blanket forts and eat snacks by dim flashlights while listening to books on tape ~ we can always have leftovers or nachos for dinner if I don’t get around to making a well-balanced freshly cooked meal because I’m took busy embracing little moments with my children!
It’s all fleeting. The housework, the yardwork, the correspondence, the educations, the playtime, the bellies that need fed, the diapers that need changed, the lives that are being lived. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t supposed to embrace it all and do it with gracious, God-given gusto. That’s exactly what Solomon in his wisdom suggests. Life IS fleeting. But LIFE is exactly what we are supposed to do. I need to remember this as I work, live, and play with my children. It may be fleeting, but it is wise to blow with the wind when I know I can not embrace it and keep it as it is.
Nothing gives me perspective on the rate of my babies’ lives than looking back at photo albums. How quickly they change! How fast I forget! How little a time I get to have them with me in the daily grind! Remembering and reminiscing is a huge reminder to me that embracing the moment is key in my calling.
Hope for the future, confidence for what lies ahead, joy for what God is working out & working in ~ this takes faith in Him and His sovereignty. What really matters? Yes, they need clean undies and beds with sheets tucked in; they need to learn how to read and how to perform arithmetic; they need nourishing meals and bubbly baths; they need naps and bedtimes… but the way these necessary things are communicated to them is even more important. The children need hugged, tickled, read to, played with, laughed over, tousled. My children need to know that I love what matters to them, what goes on in their heads; that what bothers them, bothers me; that I’m in their corner; that my life is for theirs; that being their mommy is more than simply having given them life and sustaining that physical life ~ that being their mommy is in the big things, the little things, the necessary things, the icing-on-the-cake things, the physical and spiritual and emotional things.
So this is my prayer, my hope, my desire.
That I would be the kind of mommy God wants me to be, so that He is molding me into the kind of Grandmommy He wants me to be, so that I can best be a honed tool for the Kingdom work that He wants me to do. Life is fleeting ~ my life and their lives ~ and I want to be diligent, obedient, joyful, and embracing in the midst of the mist that is the gift of life.