Last night, my family returned home from the beach. For the first time, I finished an entire book on vacation. I didn’t pack swim diapers or pull-ups. We even left the baby stroller at home. Instead of taking my 4 year-old for a ride on my early morning runs, my daughter joined me, excited to be my “workout buddy” while the younger two played at the condo until everyone else woke up.
As I watched my kids play in the surf, I was hit with the realization that my oldest will be nine next month. Now 4, 6, and 8, my kids are growing up fast. They don’t need me nearly as much as they used to.
For a long time, I dreamt of the day I’d be done breast-feeding and potty-training. When I didn’t have to lug a pack-and-play on vacation or spend hours trying to get my kids to sleep in an unfamiliar location. That day is now here and I’m finding the sweet taste of freedom is mixed with a twinge of nostalgia. My kids are officially past the baby phase. Those years I thought I’d never get through have become fleeting moments in time I’ll never get back.
I walk up to my girls and ask, “Want to go for a swim with me?”
“No,” they reply in unison. “We want Dat!” (The name they call their grandfather.)
This won’t be the last time my girls choose a guy over me.
As quickly as this day has come, I recognize many others aren’t far off. And my mind starts to wander…
There will be a day when my kids wake up and no longer ask for my opinion on what to wear. (Instead, I’ll be sending them back to their room to change.)
There will be a day when my kids are all in school and the screams and squeals that used to drive me insane will sound strangely inviting.
There will be a day when my kids get off the bus and no longer run to me with open arms. They won’t want to wake up early to workout with their momma or sit on my lap while I read them stories. They won’t ask me to play with them on the floor, snuggle them to sleep, or hold their hand as they walk down the street.
Before I know it, they won’t want to pray in public because they’ll realize it’s not popular, but we’ll do it anyway. They’ll realize my Christian music is far from mainstream and they’ll ask me to change the station to whatever’s topping the charts, but we’ll listen to it anyway. Soon enough, they’ll recognize that we live differently than much of society. We don’t play sports on Sunday morning, we make going to church a priority, and the Bible is our sole authority for how we live life. There will be days they won’t want to go. They’ll want to skip church for their friend’s sleepover, but we’ll go anyway.
As my thoughts drifted far into the future, God gave me exactly what I needed to bring it back to the present. I was reminded of these wise words from Dr. David Bowser, Mid-Atlantic District Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene, spoken in a sermon almost one year ago:
“Honor the space between the no longer and the not yet.”
In the sermon, this phrase was spoken in context of the Israelites’ journey out of Egypt to the Promised Land. They were no longer slaves, but they had not yet arrived in the land flowing with milk and honey(Exodus 3:8).
That day, God brought this phrase to mind and showed me how it applied to me and my parenting.
My kids are no longer in the baby stage, but they aren’t yet in a place where they are swayed by the opinions and temptations of today’s society. They aren’t yet faced with big decisions that have lifelong implications, like what to study or who to marry or whether they will continue to follow Jesus. So, I need not worry about them. Instead, I need to honor this space, be in this place – right here, right now.
Right now, my kids are in a wondrous phase where simple things bring tremendous joy. A stuffed hamster toy from a squirt gun game puts a smile on my 6 year-olds face that stretches from ear to ear. My son stares in amazement at God’s tiny creations – the caterpillar on the sidewalk and the baby clams that burrow into the sand. All three kids squeal in excitement as sand crabs tickle their palms and they chase seagulls by the shore.
“Be here,” I hear Him say. Every season has its challenges, but the challenge is to cease thinking about the days to come to appreciate the one you’re living right now.
Right now (unless their grandparents are around), they still reach for my hand. They still look to me for guidance and direction. They still want me and need me and aren’t afraid to be who God designed them to be. If you’re a mom of little ones, the same is true for you.
Embrace that. When you start to worry or your mind starts to wander, pray. And when the weight of the responsibility to parent our children seems like too much to carry, remember that it is not through our wisdom or power that their lives will be changed, but through His (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). Our sole responsibility is to be a reflection of His image. If we do that, we can trust He will take care of the rest. Allow that to take the pressure off.
So may our hands be lifted to Jesus and our lives be an example to others through what we say, how we love, and in Whom we place our hope and confidence. May we model less with our words and more by our behavior. When those days come when our children are faced with life-altering decisions, may they remember those prayers, that song, or that sermon that spoke to them. The one they didn’t want to listen to, but we made them anyway. Because that might just be what makes all the difference.
Call to Action
Pray the simple prayer below and ask God to show you how “honoring the space between the no longer and the not yet” applies to your own life. If this post resonated with you, please leave a comment below and pass it along to someone else who could benefit.
Heavenly Father, when my children look at me, help them see You. Help me to live a life that leaves a legacy for Your glory, pointing to You as the eternal compass that will guide them long after their little hands have left mine. Help me appreciate the joy in my current season and recognize that the toughest seasons often teach us the most and draw us into a more personal relationship with You. Equip me to handle the challenges that come my way, trusting that you have it all under control and will work all things for the good of those who love You (Romans 8:28). Take my hand, just as my children take mine, because I know I can not parent alone. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long (Psalm 25:5). In Jesus’ name, Amen.