I sometimes lose sight of the fact that I need grace ALL THE TIME.
I need it, not just for the big things but for the little things too , for major and minor irritations and for all the details that make up my everyday life. It is in the small stuff in fact that I sometimes need grace the most because it is the small things, day after day, which can wear me down the most if I let them. I need grace to recognise my own limitations and I need to receive grace for my own shortcomings, and being the mother of four children at various stages of growing up gives me plenty of opportunities for both these things.
This week, like last week and in fact every week in recent times, Mia has been glued to me like… well, glue. I love my little girl and am so thankful that I have her, that I have these special early years with her and that I get to invest in her on a daily basis – at length! But sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.
The fact is that I chose this. I chose not to put her in nursery school because I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible before she started her school career, because I wanted to teach her and read to her and provide her with a nurturing environment for as long as possible before she went out into a harsher world. I have jealously guarded each of my children’s lives for those first crucial six or seven years and have rejoiced that I could largely choose the influences in their lives. I am thankful that it has been possible though not without cost and I am thankful that not one of our children has regretted not being introduced into the school system at a more tender age, and that they adapted well to school once they began. But at the same time I realize that I have gone pretty much against the normal flow of things with this decision, at least here in Slovakia. That makes it doubly hard to admit that I have at times just wished I could pack off each one of my children to school and spend more time in adult society or even just on my own, to admit that I too get tired of the incessant chatter and insatiable needs of preschoolers, that I too would love the luxury of being able to focus on work without the constant questions and interruptions which come from my bright and curious daughter.
I love the fact that my little girl is such a companionable little girl, that she thrives on time spent together, activities done together, sitting together, giggling together and sharing everything – EVERYTHING! When she races to be first in something, finishing her yoghurt first, getting into her pyjamas first, she even “shares” her victories or her “wins”, as she puts it, with the loser, something her competitive brothers wouldn’t dream of doing.
But I thrive on being able to have at least a small amount of time alone, time to process my thoughts, time where I can hear the quiet long enough to hear what is going on inside my own head. But it is hard to come by such moments and there are many days where I crave them and yet have to live without them.
So what do I do? How do I stop myself from becoming incredibly frustrated by an inevitable reality? How do I prevent these last precious months of just Mia and me becoming clouded by irritation that I will later regret? How can raising my children continue to be a joy rather than an irritating distraction?
By entering into the moment.
By focusing on the beautiful child, who it is my privilege to have at my side for these long hours each day.
By remembering that this is only for a season, that it will be over far too soon and that the small investments I am making today will bring incredibly rich dividends.
By seeing the person behind the eyes of the child and looking into her future, knowing that I want her memories of childhood to be predominantly sweet.
By realizing that this is a privilege which no amount of money can buy, nor would it make up for the loss of it.
I know that the day will come when my child will learn independence and will spend more time with others than with me, when I will not be first on her list for listening to what is on her heart, or for helping her choose her clothes or her favourite ice cream, and I won’t be considered the most fun company for her weekend or for her summer holiday – but we are not there yet. We are still in the little years, and she still yearns for my companionship and delights to spend time with me doing WHATEVER. While I am still her favourite person, I want to be there for her, God willing, not just physically present but truly delighting in the gift of these moments, and the gift she is for me.
“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Psalm 127: 3-5