"And you are not being careful, and you are missing it."
The kids are asleep. Big sigh. I've put on my cozy pants (as my husband calls them), my bathrobe, and made myself a cup of tea. I look like such a mom. Having just left their rooms, Izzy and Joey's antics from the day are fresh in my mind...
I pray over my girls each night, the younger as I rock and sing her to sleep, and the older as I tuck her in and help her to talk to God herself. I often find myself preemptively nostalgic for these sweet days when they're both so young, so hilarious, so kind, so undamaged by disappointment, suffering, and betrayal, so unharmed by life and the people in it. I find myself praying ridiculous prayers sometimes like, "Lord, please don't ever let them know heartbreak!"
Of course they will experience heartbreak in their lives, and because Yahweh is the kind of God He is, He will rush to comfort, help, and heal them, making all their suffering work for good. And this future heartbreak that makes my mother's heart blurt out such silly petitions will cause my girls to better know their Lord--the God who is close to the contrite in heart and crushed in spirit, the Savior who came to bind up the brokenhearted and bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.
Despite how darn precious they are and my unreliable perceptions of their innocence, I am well aware of how much Izzy and Joe need Jesus, of the fact that they are little sinners to their core. But they are my little sinners, and I love them dearly. I know that one day, I'll look up and Izzy will be taller than me, wanting to wear some inappropriate outfit, and that Joey will be getting her driver's license and forgetting to call when she's running late. I strangely find myself remembering the scene from that 90's Robin Williams' Peter Pan movie, Hook, where the wife says to the grown up, workaholic Peter Pan,
"Your children love you. They want to play with you. How long do you think that lasts? Soon Jack might not even want you to come to his games. We have a few special years with our children, when they're the ones that want us around. After that you're going to be running after them for a bit of attention. It's so fast Peter. Just a few years, and it's over. And you are not being careful. And you are missing it."
Okay, so I don't remember that entire scene verbatim or anything (I had to look it up), but I do catch myself rather regularly contemplating that last phrase: "You are not being careful. And you are missing it." I don't want to miss it. I want to be careful. I want to savor these times instead of always wishing they were somehow different from what they are. I've found that the sort of conscripted, menial servanthood of motherhood can wear a woman down if she isn't careful, if she doesn't purposefully do it for the Lord, in the Lord's strength, and with the Lord's heart. And even so, there are going to be bouts of sheer, physical exhaustion. But I don't want my passionate longing for a single night of uninterrupted sleep to overshadow what a blessing it is to have a child to take to the bathroom at three in the morning, or my deep desire for adult conversation to diminish the pricelessness of playing school with Izzy for the fiftieth time. Now it would be so very nice if wanting and thinking and knowing always led to actually doing, but there's some sort of short-circuit or clogged valve between my brain, heart and actions. I fear I'm not the only one for whom this is the case.
But when I'm trusting in the Lord and relying on His Spirit, what I most want is for the maternal delight I take in my children and the love I lavish upon them to mirror God the Father's love for His Beloved Son, to point my girls--and any others who may be watching--to Jesus. Loving them with His exhorting, unfailing, humble, self-sacrificial, patient, gracious and merciful, disciplining love is then an act of worship. This, I think, is what must keep my parental love from becoming idolatrous--His glory and their salvation is the point.
God has entrusted Izzy and Joey to my husband and me, and they are young for such a brief while. What a prodigious responsibility and blessed privilege, and what a joy!