When I am old, I will be the kind of woman who smiles at young mothers and tells them to enjoy their babies. I will tell them to hug their children tight, laugh more, and worry less. I will not forget that parenting is hard, and I will not be so foolish as to tell a mother with a screaming two-year-old that she will miss these days.
But when I am old, I will remember that I did not always enjoy my children, and I will wish I had. I will remember that some days, I thought it was enough that my children were loved. It was enough that they were cared for. It was enough that we made it through the day and I had not yet been committed to an asylum.
I will remember that in my heart, I was jealous of my husband who could walk in the door from work and wrestle children without any thought to whether they’d be too wound up to go to sleep. I was envious of the grandmas and great-aunts and darling old neighbors who could simply be with my children without any thought to what had to be done.
I will remember that I acted as if enjoying my children was a nice “extra.” But it wasn’t always as important as the laundry.
When I am old, I will have learned that enjoying my children is not an extra. It is essential. It is transformative. It is powerful, and it cannot wait until they are older and it is easier.
Still, I have been a young mother, and I know that words like this from an old woman are not always welcome. A young mother will think it is hard enough to keep up with all the demands of motherhood without having to like it, too. It is hard enough to get through some days without completely losing it; the idea of enjoying the children in the midst of the mess is unfathomable.
But when I am old, I will have learned that this is exactly the point. Anyone can enjoy her children when it is easy. Anyone can smile when the family photos are being snapped. I certainly did that much. But to enjoy a child who is cold and distant, who can never seem to obey, or who just makes the messes messier…that is foolishness.
It is a foolishness that captures the hearts of our children and breathes the aroma of Christ into our homes. It is a foolishness that gives real hands and feet to love and chases insecurities away. It is a foolishness that raises motherhood from an out-of-fashion role to a means by which the world can see the very image of God.
There is something other-worldly beautiful about a mother who delights in her children. It smacks of the self-sacrifice and unconditional love we hear so much about but rarely see. In that simple, flesh-defying act of enjoying her children, a mother demonstrates the very heart of God for His own.
It is hard. It is foolish. It is glorious.
When I am an old woman, I will remember that I didn’t always enjoy my children the way I should have. But by the grace of God, I learned.
This is the introduction to our new series, 30 Days to Enjoying Your Children More. Please join us tomorrow as we jump into the practical side of enjoying your children more. Coming up, Day 2: Perspective.