Thursday, April 23, 2009

An Ordinary Day, Four Years Back

This week, I had the opportunity to speak on a new topic I have been working on for some time. In preparing for the talk, I collected many pictures of my children playing outside. For two days, both Mark and I wandered through our hard drive looking at the faces of our children as babies, as toddlers, as school-aged children. In one picture, Noah and Benjamin are running down the driveway of our old house. It was taken nearly 4 years ago and they are both looking forward, chasing a ball.

I am really not sure what happened when I saw that picture and I am really not sure why it was THAT picture that got me... but... in seeing my children, 4 years back, I missed them. I missed the little boys that the big boys used to be. I missed their tiny shoes, their smaller clothes, the way their little boy bodies fit neatly on my lap. I missed their simplicity, their laughter offered freely, the rhythm of a day focused less on activities and more on just caring for and being with my children.

Honestly, Mark and I have worked really hard to enjoy our kids, no matter the stage. We are not people who wish this day would pass so we can get on to the next thing. When our children were babies, we revelled in the newness of it. When they became toddlers, we laughed as they took those first wobbly steps. When they were two, we watched in amazement as they found their voices and made attempts to have some say over their young lives. When they began preschool, we celebrated their growing independence and ability to learn. When they left for school, we were overjoyed with their excitement for this new, huge world. And, as each thing came to pass, we missed the last stage some but found ourselves content with and proud of the people they were becoming.

So, I was surprised to find that I felt so sad in looking at that random, old picture. I love the boys they are today. I love how they make me laugh and I love that they have grown into a place where we can talk through the mysteries of life in a way that is more equal than instructive. But, that old photograph was a sign to me that it is going all too fast. Sometimes, when I am up to my eyeballs in children and schedules, the days can feel a little long. But, I remember that day when Noah and Benjamin were chasing that ball. I remember their laughter, their enthusiasm, their smaller bodies and simpler thoughts. I remember the sunshine, the temperature, the relaxing nature of a day lived doing what we wanted to do. And I know in my head that it was 4 years ago. But in my momma-heart, it was yesterday... or maybe just this morning.

It was a good reminder to me to not wish anything away. What seems like a regular moment today might be a warm and needful memory a year or two from now. I do not need to get through this day any faster than this day will go. Instead, I need sink my toes into this shifting sand and remember every detail of this ordinary day.

Today, the sun is out and the temperature is rising. Three of my sweet children have already gotten on a bus and ridden way too far away. Elizabeth, home with me, will head outside in just a while and when I am not playing with her, I need to watch. I need to see. I need to store up the way the sun lights her face, the way he feet don't touch the ground when she's riding on the swings, the way she runs head-long from one activity to the next all day long. I need to store it up for myself because all too quickly she will join her brothers and I will be home in the stillness with these memories all around. And I know that in that quiet minute, all things ordinary will become what really matters to me.

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