Moms of littles, I'm sure you can relate to this scenario: you're pushing your cart through the grocery store, mall or any public place... Maybe taking a brisk walk through the neighborhood, or racing from the monkey bars to the baby swings to help your kids along in their park adventures, when you are approached by an older woman. She tenderly looks at you, sighs and says, "Enjoy this! You will miss it someday!" You quickly smile, and try to maintain eye contact as you frantically count your children to ensure no one is missing, while graciously trying to conjure up the right words to reply. Do you say, "Thank You", or "Yes! Everyone tells me that", or "Are you sure? Because I'm losing my mind!"? The events of the day and wether or not I'm feeling like "supermom" or "loser mom" in that moment usually determine my answer! I walk away feeling encouraged that someone else noticed my complicated yet precious season of life. But I also often walk away wondering why, in particular, these women admonish me in my pursuit of joy and express longing for days gone by.
Are their remarks birthed from deep regret? Do the faces of my children bring back painful memories of their own? Are they suddenly hit with the realities of many mistakes made, unrepentant sin, fractured relationships with adult children or maybe the loss of an identity now that children have flown the coop?
Or, on the contrary, are they nostalgically gazing at this snippet of my journey, carrying within them a sense of a job well done or a mission accomplished? Are they transported back to sacrificial times of loving, living, learning and laboring alongside of children with constant needs who needed a patient and gentle mommy? Maybe they're reflecting on a season of great growth, wherein the Lord sanctified them in the most painful yet beautiful of ways. Or perhaps they are suddenly struck with awe and amazement at the faithfulness of God, who was and has been true to his promises in blessing a woman who, though flawed, fears the Lord and raises and nurtures her children in the ways of God!
When I look back, I hope by God's grace to be the latter. Years from now, when my home is no longer the main attraction, but rather a place for special occasions, I want to be the older woman who can say, "Enjoy this!" because I truly ENJOYED IT. I'm talking true and authentic JOY. Not mere happiness, which is only dependent upon favorable situations and outcomes, but radiating, world-changing, life-giving JOY! Even through the late night fevers and new pearly whites causing misery for all! Even through the difficult tantrums that leave me frustrated and unsure of my own sanity! Even through the constant and painful realizations that our children, at the core of who they are, are broken individuals who need to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus and sanctified by His Spirit! Even through the times when providing for and caring for little children puts a strain on my marriage! And especially during the times when I come face to face with my own limitations brought on by the realities of living in a world riddled with sin! I want to choose JOY through it all! And when I say to that cute and precious mom on the playground, "You'll miss this!", may it be due to the fact that the years spent with my young children were the BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE! Not because everything was perfect and because I was a perfect mommy, but because we lived and breathed in the fresh and fragrant aroma of our perfect Savior who was empowering us to live and love well at home in preparation for our ETERNAL home.
Let it be through the eyes of faith and with deep gratitude and appreciation for all the Lord has done, when I look back.