Indulge me for a moment, will you? Today’s column is more about food for the soul, then for the tummy.
Years ago, I was watching TV and I saw a commercial for diapers. I don’t remember the entire context of it, but they showed a little baby in the crib, then later, he’s a toddler learning to use his pull up diapers and go potty like a big boy.
I almost got teary over that commercial! I don’t know what it was about that ad that landed so hard in my heart. After sleeping on it all night, I realized exactly what it was.
I spent a good portion of my children’s childhoods wishing it away. Instead of cherishing the moments, I would say to myself, “This is so hard. It will be so much easier when they’re older.”
My children are there now at 24 and 26 years old. They’re close in age, 21 months apart. When they were little, I had double everything: stroller, car seats, diapers, you name it. Their babyhoods were a blur–I was nursing one and trying to keep another happy. I was tired, stressed out and wanted motherhood to be easy and perfect—like it is in magazines. The reality was quite the opposite–I was overwhelmed and spent an inordinate amount of time looking ahead instead of loving their sweet heads. “When they are older, THEN I will (fill in the blank).”
Why am I telling you this? Because I have guilt and regret and can’t move forward? No, because I finally realized that even if I did wish away too much time when they were babies, now that they have gone away to school, I thoroughly cherish each moment that I have with them. Oh sure, there are times that they’re rotten and need straightening out, but I am not trying to tell you that life becomes perfect when you’re looking wistfully back on their childhoods. The root of all discontent however, is expecting perfect out of anyone (child or adult) or any situation; I am thankful I learned that while they were still home.
Here’s a way to put this important lesson into practice; instead of constantly trying to correct and PERFECT your children’s table manners, consciously try to have a dinner table that welcomes the stories about your son’s day, your daughter’s dreams and laugh together! My heart’s memory book is filled with memories from those kind of interactions and (thankfully) not the guilt of nagging at them constantly.
My children grew quickly and were gone before I knew it. One thing that really helped me enjoy them and love them each day was breaking bread each night together at the table. Having dinner together not only blesses those at the table, but it blesses the hands that make it.
Wherever you are in your journey as a mother, you can begin to cherish your babies now—no matter what age, even if they have children of their own! You are still a mother and you still have moments (God willing) left to cherish. The past is one thing we can do nothing about, but we have today!
Take a moment today and look at your children’s faces and understand that they are there in your care by Divine appointment. It is no accident that God gave you that child or those children. They were hand selected to belong to your family—no one else’s. What a gift!
So tonight, when you are gathered ‘round your family dinner table, thank God for giving you each child even if you can see their tonsils with mouths full of spaghetti. Treasure your sweet children and love them like there is no tomorrow. They are gifts to be cherished at each meal, with each moment.