I know that in my home live four children who call me momma. Different as night and day, they are. Each one deeply loved and desired and each one such an integral part of our family that I cannot imagine life without them.
And I know that as Mark and I have parented these four, there have been days that are beautiful and simple and honestly, the stuff of dreams. But there have also been hard days and gritty days and days that I fall into bed in tears, deeply aware of how much I really do not know.
For each of them we have fought. We fought to see the wonder and delighted in those moments when it rose to the top like bubbles. We fought to approach discipline wisely and carefully and personally so that we were not so much trying to be fair to the four as we were trying to give each one what they needed. Because it is rarely the same thing, at least not in our home.
And God knows we have not always been sure that what we are doing is the best thing. We are not always sure what the next thing should be. We are not always sure that we are reaching the ones we need to reach and giving space to the ones who are growing up and out. Because all this parenting stuff is hard.
Maybe you understand...
But, as we have walked through this for 17.5 years with our children nearby, crafting a life that we pray God will use to help our kids grow into who they are meant to be, we have tried to do what we can do and prayed for grace when we failed. Which happens, you know. I hope you know.
And from where I stand, I see this little tiny glimpse that I just have to share because in the midst of a lifetime of living with no instruction manual and only a fuzzy view into what might come, it offers me hope. And I need that. And maybe you do, too.
This fall, our oldest will be a senior in high school. He is almost done. And his little brother will be a sophomore and our little ones will be in the 5th and 6th grades and all of a sudden I can see it...
Laughing out loud
Taking a walk
Going to church
Reading a book
Saying hard words
Raising the bar
Pulling in close
They all matter.
These and so much more.
And maybe you are tired and maybe you are struggling and maybe it is just all too hard.
Yep. I get that.
But, squint your eyes and take a deep breath and be reminded... It. Matters.
All those little choices over a lifetime of living together when you could not stand the sight of the Candy Land box or one more knock-knock joke but you made yourself listen again, roll the dice, pick a card, hook up the sprinkler, all because a little one asked. All the times that you set aside what you are doing to watch that video, listen to middle school drama, invite over another friend, it makes all the difference in the world. When you stay connected when it is easier to step away, when you try a new approach to discipline because the last 4 ways did not work, when you expect more and follow through and don't give up, you are changing it all for the good.
And when you, like me, are looking at your baby and realizing that you see more of his back as he walks out the door than his face hanging out at home, you will know that somehow you have poured into the boy while you had him close. And when he comes back in to say good-bye and give you a hug as he heads on out, you will be grateful for all the little things, all the choices that felt like mindless minutiae, that gave him the security to stand, the confidence to connect to the world before him.
Our children get these things when we see them.
So, please see.
And honestly, I do not think it is so much about the things we do not do... Because we are trying, right? It is about knowing that what we manage to do on this one day makes all the difference in the world to the children we have been given to raise. So we will try to choose that one thing, one more time, one more game, one more lightning bug saved in a jar. There is wonder to be found in the most mundane.
When we started this journey, 17.5 years ago, we had no idea that it mattered. But a lifetime of seeking to make intentional choices has somehow brought us to this place where we can see that the little choices are the big choices. They are those moments we remember, those memories we cherish, even when it was something silly or simple. But the whole of it left a mark on our kids and taught lessons we didn't know we were offering. Choosing to be present and willing and connected sent a signal loudly that they are loved, important, noticed, valued...