“The years go by so fast,” said the older woman as I cradled my precious two-day old first born daughter.
Not only had my labor and birth been difficult, we spent the first two weeks of her life traveling back to the hospital to have labs drawn. Weighing in at only 5 pounds 6 ounces, this tiny infant was too small for newborn diapers and clothes, but she made up for it with her strong spirit–a spirit I’ve witnessed from the time I watched the doctor and medical team resuscitate her at birth to the fiestiness we witnessed as a tiny tot, and now the strength we see as she becomes more anchored in her convictions.
I remember the day she was born like it was yesterday–walking the halls of the hospital, watching the heart decels, wondering each time a nurse or the doctor came in if now was the time they would wheel me in for an emergency c-section. Her birth was by far the most stressful day of my life, and yet it was the most beautiful as I finally experienced my dream of becoming a mother.
If only I’d heeded the words of that dear lady thirteen years ago.
The days were both blessed and trying. There were tears, weeks of colic, tantrums, sleepless nights, and I couldn’t wait for her to grow up and be just a bit more independent, especially as her little brother came along.
As more children were added to our family, it was such a blessing to see our little girl blossom into a responsible young woman who enjoyed ministering to others. Friends and acquaintances who watched her in action, complimented her on her strong character and responsibility, stating that she demonstrated more skill and ability than many of the older teens and young adults they hired to work with their children.
I’m proud of the young woman my daughter is becoming. She loves the Lord, reads her Bible daily, and is actively seeking His Will for her life.
Her talents are emerging more–her gift for music, especially voice and piano, are stronger and she’s eager to see how she can use these talents in the future.
I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her.
And then I realize. Thirteen.
Where did the thirteen years go?
The dear woman’s charge sticks with me now. Years go by faster with each child, and as I realize my first-born daughter will be graduating from high school in a few short years, I want to be as intentional as possible with the time I have with her now.
As we stood in the kitchen last week, she wrapped her arms around me, buried her face into my chest, listening to my heartbeat and said, “I love it when I’m just like this. I feel safe.”
So many emotions, as I wondered what I did right when the insecurities of not being a “good enough” mom filled my days over the years.
The years are fast, and I wish I hadn’t spent so many wishing she would grow up more quickly.
If I could talk to my younger self, I would say spend more time rocking her, singing to her, reading books, and cuddling; it’s OK to love generously and freely. It’s OK if she still needs you. And yes, the laundry, dishes, and dust bunnies really will still be there. The rhymes about “babies who don’t keep” are right!
Love your babies. Love your children. Don’t let them remember a mom who felt pressure to have it all together, who was frustrated because her children unraveled the toilet paper, tracked mud into the house, put liquid dish soap into the dishwasher, and emptied the make-up bag because they just wanted to look pretty like mama.
When frustration arises, take a deep breath and ask yourself if the scolding look or stern voice are worth risking a bruised spirit–an important question to ask especially when frustration results from their making an honest mistake. I wasted too much time being upset when my little ones were simply being little ones.
Don’t worry about what others think about you or your mothering. Trust that God knew what He was doing when He placed these little ones under your care.
Realize that you can’t fully embrace mothering responsibilities in your own strength, and that you need to walk in the Spirit. Pray to the Lord for help, every day.
Hug them, kiss them, laugh with them, and when you feel you’ve messed up, ask them for forgiveness. Forgive them as well.
Because the years go by so fast.
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