The beds have been stripped. The piano is quiet. The loud music is gone. The laundry room is … quiet. The refrigerator looks sadly empty. The Christmas break is over. Our kids have returned to their school campuses, their dorms and apartments.
The first week they leave is always the hardest for me. I walk by the piano, picture Cecilia playing and singing – and wish that I’d stopped what I was doing and gone to sit by her every time that she played. I walk by our sofa and picture our son Terrell watching some sport – and wish that I’d stopped what I was doing and gone to sit with him more often. I see Ellison’s bike or an old pair of running shoes – and wish that I’d stopped what I was doing to go to the track or the gym with him. The pull on my heart is tangible – I miss my children!
And yet, this season is good. It’s right. They are where they are supposed to be. And I am glad. I’m not distracted with regret. I want to learn. I want to learn to discern WHEN to stop, WHEN to pause and simply be present to my children and enjoy them. Ten minutes here; an hour there… not to teach something, not to have a “talk”, no agenda – but to enjoy them.
When I look back to when our children lived with us, we spent a lot of time together. In fact, I used to have the opposite feeling about a quiet house!! When they would head off to school, an event or a friend’s house, I’d think, “Ah, my house is quiet and I’m all alone for a while!!” My, my, my. Circumstances sure can affect our attitudes.
Plenty of times we see them; we don’t seize them. Sure, there are things that we need to do – work, clean, cook, plan, return calls… But there are plenty of things we think we need to do, that can wait. Other times, we don’t see the opportunity because we aren’t looking for it – Time to just BE with our child.
Sometimes we don’t see the opportunity as opportunity.
.. to be blessed – with a giggle, a smile, a random awesome question or statement;
.. to learn things about our child that we don’t ‘see’;
.. to step into a God-staged plan where He wants to build our relationship with our child;
.. to breathe – just savoring the privilege of being someone’s mom.
Do we know how to do this? The approach is the same from the time they are babies to adults, with age modifications, of course.
We give affection – verbal and physical to express our love for them. We watch them – observing how they’ve grown, matured, the things they can do and how they express themselves. We listen to them – observing how their tone reveals their feelings about someone or something or themselves; we hear their views, frustrations, celebrations, concerns, and hopes. (Prayerfully discerning when to keep our opinion to our selves.) We engage with them – we tickle and let them tickle; we listen to them play their instrument and we applaud and praise; we watch them practice a skill or dabble with a hobby and we express interest and delight.
“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The Fruit of the womb is a reward.” (Psalm 127.3)
He knows the challenges and pain that will come, but He gives them as a gift. God gives them as a blessing – to bring us joy, to enjoy. He intends for us to have pleasure; He sees it, the pleasure. This is a window that remains open for all of our days, not only when our children live at home with us. I am still learning how to be a mom, now to my grown children. There are challenges as I grow and as they grow. And I thank the Lord for the continued opportunities to enjoy my children, His gift.
“Lord, help me to watch for the opportunities that you provide for me. Help me enjoy these gifts that you have given me. Amen.”