I was content to let my 3-year-old entertain herself every day. By nature that meant entertaining her little brother who follows her every move. When they play I do what needs doing or take a mental break. Prompted by a sense of imbalance I began evaluating my typical day and the glaringly obvious truth was I had buried my head deep in a pile of to-do’s to the neglect of relationship with my children. Anytime they needed me, I was annoyed. They were interrupting. My productivity or simple train-of-thought was being hijacked. I was angry.
I had completely lost focus on my main role in this season: Mommy. This realization left me with two feelings: regret and panic. I wondered if I would have any memories to look back on. Was I savoring these fleeting moments or was I shooing them away? It was then I realized that being present with my children was much more important than checking off house chores.
I sat down in a chair and watched my baby boy giggle with sheer delight at a bowl full of peas, which he meticulously popped in his mouth, one by one. I gave 5 minutes just to watch him wonder at those little green rolling spheres and smile each time he captured one, but I got so much more.
I want to remember the silly things my kids do that make my whole heart bloom with happiness. I want to remember all the times they look at me with surprise when I teach them something new. I want to remember the times they think I’m funny because I do something totally unexpected and goofy. I want to remember their sweet, mispronounced words and sing-songy speech. I don’t want my memories to be how clean my house was or how organized I managed to be.
Discouragement and guilt are always chasing our heels as mothers. The heavy reality that we are molding and nurturing tiny humans into world-shapers is no small responsibility. I can all too quickly feel 100 percent accountable for the outcome. I have to remind myself that my children also have a heavenly Father. He goes with them even where I cannot and knows their hearts more intimately than I do. He knit them together (Psalm 139:13) and planned their days long ago. I am His instrument; His servant.
Each day He gives us the opportunity to communicate His love and the glory of who He is through interactions with our children. We are carrying a sacred message in a fragile and unworthy vessel. Like clay jars we are flawed—sometimes broken— and He knows this all too well (2 Corinthians 4:7). He remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:14) and so guides us with such patience and grace.
Checklists have their place, but for all the order and productivity they may produce, they will not produce parented children. So next time your toddler clutches your leg the very moment your hands are dripping wet over a sink full of dishes, lean over and kiss his soft, scented head, and sing a bouncy tune that makes him giggle. Don’t let the demands of the day dampen your joy in the moments that mean the most.