Somewhere in the last year, since having my third baby, my perspective has shifted in regard to raising my children. I'm not exactly sure what to attribute it to. I honestly think it's been a great handful of things. But one thing is for sure. It's a work that's been done deep in my heart, and I am so grateful to the Lord for it.
I think I can best summarize it by saying that I am deeply and richly enjoying this time with my kids. So much of my earlier years of parenting were spent just waiting for the next moment, the next phase, or waiting for the difficult times/phases to pass.
Waiting for my first period after Molly was born so that we could have another baby.
Waiting through my difficult pregnancy with Cooper so that he could be born and my body could feel back to normal.
Clenching my teeth through the hellish adjustment we had from one to two kids, praying it would pass.
Waiting to buy a house.
Wishing our way through fixing up our house so we could just move in already.
Learning about our sweet surprise baby and waiting through yet another pregnancy that challenged me so deeply to learn that God is bigger--even bigger than pregnancy.
Then something sweet happened. Maggy Michelle was born, and for the first time ever, I relished that newborn stage. I didn't wish it away, because I knew--I absolutely, positively knew--how it would flash by in the blink of an eye. I wanted to be able to look back on that phase and think, "There's no way I could have cherished it any more than I did." And that is exactly how I feel.
If you're a parent, you have probably heard more times than you'd like to admit, "Enjoy these times, one day you will miss them," or something like that. There was a time when I would seriously roll my eyes at those statements. It was so annoying to me. Don't they remember what this is like? Obviously not! This is the hardest thing I've ever done!
And ya know what? I don't know what it's like yet to be past the little years. Mine are presently 4, 2.5, and almost 1. It's crazy town, folks. But I have to think that if this is the overwhelming advice I get from people that are past my stage of parenting, that maybe there's something to it.
And so I choose joy. I choose to relish these moments that are fleeting. The giggles over something silly. The lengthy eye-contact with them, because staring into someone's eyes is like seeing their soul. The repetition, no matter what it may be, because they find delight in such simple things. The holding 60 lbs worth of children on your hips, because someday (soon!) they'll be too big to hold on my hips. Life is made up of these little moments, these "in-the-gap" moments. I certainly don't want them to go by unnoticed, just waiting for the next thing.
Please don't read this and think that my life is perfect and I never struggle with my kids. Hang around for one day, and you will know it's the complete opposite. But I'm learning that life is a dance. A step forward, two steps back; two steps forward, one step back. And we will truly wish away our whole lives if we don't stop and live life right now, for all that it is.