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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Don't Blink - Your Child Has A Ticking Clock



I recently read a very popular blog post about the challenges and daily struggles of raising young children. The author's belief was that it is not helpful - possibly even harmful - when people say things like, "Enjoy it - they grow up so fast." or "Someday, you're going to miss these moments.". There were thousands of comments on the blog from parents who felt relieved, thankful, validated and understood by the author. Truthfully, I felt conflicted about it.

You hear it all the time. From those mothers and fathers whose children are grown and gone. From the grandparents who don't see their families often enough. There are whole books, websites and blogs {like mine!} devoted to the idea of embracing and enjoying each moment. There is even a country song about it.

There are circumstances when it certainly is untimely advice. I stand in full agreement that it is NEVER helpful to say something like that in the moment. For instance, if you see a mom struggling with her tantrum-throwing two year old in the grocery aisle or a dad having a battle of the wills with his four year old on the playground, please do not tell them that they should enjoy those moments. Honestly, you might get hurt if you do - speak at your own risk ;) Give that parent an understanding look and give them space.

Helpful things to say are -
I remember those days
It is hard
You are doing a great job
It gets better
Keep up the good work.

The author of the blog went on to a list of "you are not a bad parent if...". This is where I started to struggle with the message. I am all about grace. I make many mistakes on my parenting journey - I yell sometimes (gasp!), I lose my cool, I say things I shouldn't, I give in when I shouldn't, I say 'no' when I should say 'yes'...I am very flawed. And I am so thankful for a merciful loving Heavenly Father, and that {so far} my kids seem to be no worse for the wear. But when I yell, I don't want to excuse it with statements like, "I'm not a horrible parent"...I want to recognize that it was wrong, humble myself, apologize, surrender it to God and then try to do better.

I think that there is something good about parenting your children with the future in mind - knowing that the clock is ticking and every moment counts. It doesn't mean that you wont ever mess up. It means that when you do mess up, you will dust yourself off, say "I'm sorry" and do better tomorrow. I have only been at this parenting stuff for five years - and those five years have been like a gale force wind - moving faster than I can keep up with. The days are long, but the years are short. And I don't want to look back with regret. Nobody ever says, "I shouldn't have enjoyed my kids so much." They say, "I wish I had enjoyed it more..."

I know, trust me, I know - when you are in the throws of potty training, and you have said the same thing a million times, and your child throws your Kindle in the bathtub (true story) and the baby is eating dog food -  you don't care about enjoying it. It feels like the day will never end. But it will end. And all too soon those little fingerprints on the window will fade away and there will be no more legos to step on in the dark. This is not about making you feel guilty, it is about choosing to embrace your life - even in the hard moments.

I will not always enjoy every moment, but I can try to do better. Maybe I did something wrong, and I need to make it right. It is so easy to get caught up in the mundane, we need to remember the eternal value in our work. I remind myself often to enjoy it. When I am up bone-tired and up nursing my youngest in the night, sometimes I think, "I just want sleep!!!" but other times, I think "Someday you won't have a baby to cuddle anymore". After which attitude do you think I wake up feeling refreshed in the morning? I pray everyday that I would focus more and more on enjoying it. That I would see this time in my life for what it is - temporary.

I believe that God wants more from us than just to "get through" the day. He wants us to love without limits or conditions. Even when we feel overwhelmed and under-appreciated, that we will give our all to the mission he has called us to. We cannot do it our own, but we can do it when we rely on Him. I encourage you to keep the sound of your child's clock ticking in your mind. Don't ignore it or dismiss it. Because it keeps on ticking whether you acknowledge it or not. The choice is not whether or not the time will pass, it is what you do with the time you have been given.

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment & share :)

8 comments:

  1. awesome!! i agree with you, we are not perfect but that does not excuse us to take for granted what is in our life, even in the bad moments!

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    1. Thank you for visiting :) Blessings to you!

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  2. God lead me to motherhood and homeschooling at different times in my journey and along the way He has pointed me to the need to celebrate, celebrate, celebrate!!! We get happy over all kinds of events or accomplishments at our home and we are building a great bond and life within our family. God let me know that He wanted us to have a family that "looked" different. Now, again, we are no perfect family and we have many "enemies" because of our choices and stands, but what matters in the end is "Am I pleasing God?" When I screech with excitement over the three different kinds of silks a spider has and point to God the Creator, I am pointing my children to the Father of their lives, the One Who will see them through this life on earth and the wonderful reward of Heaven Eternally!! Every single moment counts, weather we are pleasing God or disappointing Him, and yes, I live in GRACE!! Growth is for ALL of us!! So we need time and experience!!

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    1. Thank you for your lovely insights! Be Blessed :)

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  3. Found this post from one of my facebook friends, really well said! I am trying to do my best in embracing every moment of the 9-month-get-into-everything-doesn't-understand-what-she-can't-do-yet days! It's hard sometimes, but the cuddles won't last forever! Thanks for this, it's beautiful!

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    1. I am so glad you stopped by! You are right - it is so worth it. Blessings on your journey :)

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  4. I'm pretty sure I read the same article, and I agree with you that it had some great parts and some parts that caused me to pause. I like the advice and thoughts you've given here.
    You're right about our need to own up to our failures. Grace isn't about overlooking what we do, but taking responsibility for it and being grateful that God's grace will forgive it.
    And it's always good advice to think in terms of eternal values. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks for your feedback and for hosting your link up :)

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