Today begins our summer break and that is exciting! This is one of our families most favorite times of the year. However, yesterday was a struggle and I felt anything but calm. Not until a sweet friend called and we started talking about the day, did it all kinda piece together. Who knew how much one day could hold? Emotions on the surface felt unsettled and I had to dig a bit deeper to see the root of them. The root is change and some changes are harder than others.
For the past 17 years, I have had at least one child still at home during the school day. Being a mom is what I was made to do, so it makes sense that I like having my kids at home. With this school year coming to a close, this era will also close. Summer stretches between today and the beginning of a new normal. Our oldest will begin her senior year and our youngest will start kindergarten. Another will start high school and one moves up in middle school. One moves to the intermediate school and two more advance a grade in elementary. It is a bit overwhelming for me and it all fell hard on my heart. I love seeing them grow up, but it just is happening way too fast.
I remember once when my mom and I were out shopping with my first child, an older lady stopped me and said, “It goes by so fast, enjoy it.” I replied with a confident, “I know” and we parted ways. I did not know and she was right. The intense look in her eyes was not lost on me, but my arrogance did not allow her words to count. Yes, I remembered them, but I know I wasted days not enjoying my time with my kids. Thankfully, the Lord did a work in my heart and that changed. My kids now have a happy mom. Only God can do this kind of work. Only God could have reduced me to love.
As one of our boys graduated kindergarten the other day, his precious teacher read a fabulous quote that started with these words, “Let them be little…”. (Excuse me for a minute while I tie homemade horse tails on my youngest two. Apparently, they are horses today.) Looking back over the years that have flown by, I want to remind us of how important this is. Our children only have one childhood and it matters. Their early years play such a foundational role in who they become. It amazes me that more teaching isn’t done at the hospital before we take our babies home! We have been entrusted with a little human, who has feelings, a personality, a mind, preferences, thoughts and so much more. As a parent, we shape each of these in good and bad ways. What if we get this wrong and totally mess our children up? Will they forgive us as they get older and know we were doing the very best we knew how? Will we be humble enough to repent and ask our kids for forgiveness for the ways we failed?
With each child that has arrived in our family, we have been given yet another chance to do better by relying on God as our source of strength and direction. When people ask about the large size of our family, I often say it is because the Lord had so much to work out of me that did not reflect His image. So much pride, selfishness, blame and the list could go on and on. Thankfully, with the reducing of me, He has had more space to invade. My children have a better mom because of Him. Being reduced to love is painful, but worth it.
So, as summer arrives and our days slow down, I will ask the Lord to make each of my children, “…like a flourishing olive tree in the house of God; I trust in God’s faithful love forever and ever. I will praise you forever for what you have done. In the presence of your faithful people, I will put my hope in your name, for it is good.” Psalm 52:8-9.