“The days are long, but the years go quickly,” she said. It was hard to believe at the time. Surrounded by the toys of toddlerhood, I found myself tired, frustrated, unsure. Sometimes parenting felt overwhelming. I was living long days with my eyes focused on the slowness of the clock. I felt every second, every minute, every hour of that time.
While our home held much joy during those days, and I am a momma who can be moved to tears by the wonder of my child, I was missing something important while wallowing in the long days of babyhood. Perspective. I was missing perspective.
It is easy to find ourselves focused on frustration while raising our children. It is easy to become distracted by the repetitive nature of our teaching and our cleaning, and completely miss the wonder that plays out before us. And it is easy to make decisions to save ourselves extra work, extra irritation, while our children are very young. And maybe there is wisdom in that.
Or maybe we are staring so closely at the minutiae of our lives that we are missing the big picture that might offer comfort or even joy.
Being a momma to a big family has been a blessing in ways I did not expect. One of the most apparent blessings is that we have kids in a variety of ages. Living with teens and little ones helps us see that the years go quickly indeed. And while we have spent nearly 20 years loving on our babies, we cannot ignore the fact that children grow up overnight.
It can feel like this is the work that my husband and I will do for the rest of our lives, but the truth is that our children are already planning for college. We are wrestling with the reality that this time, this hands-on work, is quickly coming to an end. We quietly have conversations about what we want and need to do before we watch them step out on their own. And yet, when they laugh, when they look our way, it is their toddler faces that we still see.
I am awash in perspective today.
So what can we do when the days are long? Remind yourself of the passage of time – pull out a photo album. Remember days already past. Think how fast four years flew by when you were in high school, or college. This, too, will pass by.
Because, truly this precious moment is only today. A gift from God's hand.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17).
God will not grant us this day again. He will not let us roll back the hours and make different choices or undo our parenting regrets. But He will give us the strength and vision to be present right now so that a do-over will offer us nothing that we did not get the first time around. He will allow joy where we live in frustration and calm in the midst of much chaos. He will. Because He did not entrust your children to you as a burden but as a blessing that enriches the place where you are.
It is cliché to be told that it all goes too fast.
And yet, somehow, it’s true.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra