Of course you love your children—you feed them, change them, bathe them, tuck them in at night. But do you Enjoy them?
“What loving parent wouldn’t give his or her life for a child? But as we break that life down into smaller increments, it is simply made up of time: minutes, hours, days, and years. We may be ready to sacrifice blood for our beloveds in times of crisis, but not always our precious day to day time.” –Never Say No, Mark Foreman
I confess that there are times I’ve viewed my children as tasks. Times, especially when June was a newborn, when zuzu would wake up and I would see her as my to-do list—ok, fix breakfast, change her clothes, brush her teeth and hair…
God has called us to more than that as parents. He does more than that for us—God doesn’t just tolerate his children, he enjoys us!
This concept is still new to me, honestly. Growing up in the bible-belt where legalistic thinking rules the roost, I was mainly happy that God decided to spare me and that he tolerated me (that I had “my own little shack in the corner of heaven”, as they say). I knew he loved me, but not that he liked me.
God didn’t let his Son die for people he could barely tolerate—we’re his beloved sons and daughters:
He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zeph. 3:17
I want to enjoy my children (and husband!) the way God enjoys me. It might mean getting down on the floor to play ponies or reading that book the 112th time or playing in the sprinkler while the kitchen sink is full and the tubs are dirty.
Children aren’t just an interruption of schedule, aren’t just something to check off the list. When i’m holding on to my own time so tightly, what am I saving it up for that is more important than truly loving and enjoying my children? What am i missing out on when I refuse (or softly refuse by saying “not now” or “later”) to put aside all my adult worries and tasks to play make-believe or pull out the bubbles and sprinkler or swing low sweet chariot?
the tasks are more temporary than the playtime they want fro me. Why keep a clean house anyway? To create an inviting and comfortable home for my family. But that comfortable inviting environment is meaningless if it doesn’t house a family that enjoys each other. Sometimes the tasks and to-dos have to take a back seat; in fact, maybe most times they should.
So what I’m praying about this week and correcting in my day-to-day is how I enjoy my children. Am I more bent on accomplishment (whether that accomplishment is a new poem or a swept floor) or am I focused on what is more important, enjoying these living blessings God has given me?
Getting ready to welcome our third baby girl into the family, I know this is something I’ll have to make a mantra of in my mind—when all of the immediate physical needs of my little ones drive me to the just-get-stuff-done mode of living, where its so easy to forget to sit down and talk to zuzu about her day, or get my goodmorning hug and kiss from june, or hold that sweet impossibly small newborn against my chest and just breathe in her newness.
God enjoys his children and I will enjoy mine too.
A Praise Song by Renee Emerson
Praise Him in rising, for wake-cries of Mama,
for the run down the hall, pretending to be
pirates, ballerinas, pet-tigers, grown-up mommies.
For breakfast first thing, for boiled eggs
and good oatmeal toast. For just-brushed
teeth, the dishes filling up the sink, testimonies
to satisfied bellies, spent hungers.
Praise Him for toddler-limbed girls
clustered close to me on our frayed
sofa, so I can read them a book, our
mix-matched pajamas a clutter of colors.
Praise, Praise, for the sleepy-time
soothe-scent shampoo of their hair,
Johnson baby lotion of their skin.
For the catechism of diaper change,
pull-up change, potty-time,
of fishing sippies out from beneath
chairs and couches, the depths of the over-
crowded monastery of the toybox.
For the music of the first cup
of coffee brewing, the rough prayer
of the second, of whining and pulled hair,
of another round of Jesus Loves Me.
Praise Him, Praise Him, for the laundry
they unfolded, sprawled like Lavender
-scented fragments of prayer across
ordinary living room carpet.
For the morning, for the run down the hall,
for another round of Jesus Loves Me.