I know that day will come. I know it. The day when my children won't be begging me to play with them. The day when I find myself thinking back to all the missed opportunities just because I wasn't willing to put down what would always be there anyway and spend time with them.
And child's play doesn't require a whole day's worth of time. 10 minutes here. 20 minutes there. A story snuggled up on the couch together. Painting together at the kitchen table. A walk in the woods. Baking cookies or bread together.
Last week, I did something that I'm ashamed to admit I don't do often enough. I put the tasks down and picked up the opportunity.
A sun-setting walk through the forest with Ian. A time when I so wished I had brought my camera. Hand in hand we walked through the forest, examining the rings on tree stumps, identifying animal tracks, watching the sun go to sleep. I realized how much I really do not connect on a deep, personal level with my kids during the day-to-day business of life and schooling. It's in the raw, real-life, unscripted moments when the true connection comes.
An afternoon tea party with Lily. I almost said no. I was in the middle of dishes, and had more to check off of that obsessive to-do list. Oh, but I caught the words before they were verbalized. Thank goodness I did. "Sure honey, give me five minutes to finish the dishes and we'll have a tea party."
And we did. And I enjoyed it. And Lily was so happy. And that made me feel good, and it reaffirmed that I did the right thing. When is showing our kids our love for them not a good thing, after all?
And it's not about dropping all of our duties and errands and obligations to play with our children all day. But it is about making sure we spend one-on-one time with them. And it even means that sometimes we need to accept the interruption to our plans, our schedule, to spontaneously spend time with our children. I think that it's in those unplanned moments when they feel most loved and special because they see that we are willing to lay aside our work and our plans and our preferences to spend time doing something with them that they really enjoy.
And I type these words very humbly, because this is an area of mothering in which I struggle. I confess that it is much easier for me to say no, and I often do. But I want to be more attentive and responsive to the needs of my children, to show them that their mommy loves them so much that she's willing to lay down her to-do list for a little while to spend time with them.
Father, I will be the first to admit that I can't do this mothering role on my own. I need Your hand on me, guiding me, giving me wisdom and insight as I raise my children. Father, I pray that you would help me to lay my selfish desires and my demanding to-do list down at Your feet. I pray that those things of this earth would not hinder me from those things of Your kingdom, in particular, raising my children and making them feel completely and totally loved. I pray that I would parent my children as You parent me. Full with love, with time, and with grace. In Your Son's glorious and grace-filled name I pray, Amen.