The mess. The noise. The lack of sleep. The hectic schedule. The nagging to get homework done. The driving across town to bring a kid to practice. The macaroni and cheese dinners. Don’t wish it away. Be grateful. Someday you will wonder, “Where did it go?”
Recently, I was working on transferring our old analog videotapes to DVD’s. During the process, my family has been watching the videos shot over the past 22 years, many of which have never been viewed before. As I watched my kids on the video – pulling books off the shelves, eating Cheerios in a high chair, playing in their first soccer game, getting on the bus for the first day of school, singing in the Valentine’s Day program, learning to waterski, graduating from high school, leaving to study for a semester in Europe, getting married – I wondered, “Where did the time go? How did they grow up so fast?”
Did I long for the days when I wouldn’t have to change a diaper or pick up toys. Did I complain about having to make a peanut butter sandwich because one of the boys didn’t like what was served for dinner? Did I grumble about having to pick-up toys, stuffed animals, clothes, dishes, and shoes? Did I whine when I had to get out the Clorox wipes to clean around the toilet because my little boys couldn’t hit the target? (I finally put up a sign that read: “We aim to please. You aim too…please.”)
I am guilty and grateful! Guilty of wishing for a tomorrow when the house would be clean and quiet. Guilty of longing for a period of more than ten, uninterrupted minutes to myself. And in all that wishing, I didn’t realize the gift of life that God was offering me today. The mess, the noise, the craziness of life was God’s gift to me in the present.
Grateful for the chaos. Grateful for the uninhibited laughter. Grateful for the focused family time. So incredibly thankful for having two boys I could daily pour into, preparing them to be the men God has designed them to be. Most of all, I’m thankful for the gift of being their dad.
The play “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder expresses these feelings so well. After the main character Emily Webb dies, she gets a chance to relive her twelfth birthday. As she watches herself relive that day, she realizes that she never truly lived. “They’re all so young and beautiful. Why did they ever have to grow old?..I can’t, I can’t..It goes so fast, I didn’t realize..It goes so fast, we don’t have time to look at one another… Do people ever realize life as they live it, every, every minute?”
Take it from a dad with two grown children. The fullness of life is right now! Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Don’t wish it away. Savor the mess. Revel in the noise. Appreciate your exhaustion. Get a thrill out of the hectic schedule. Celebrate the homework. Cherish the gift of comforting a crying child. Be thankful God gave you this awesome opportunity to be a mom or dad. This is the joy of parenting!
“Did I ever realize life as I lived it, every, every minute?”
“I have come so that you might have life in its fullness.” – John 10:10
Just don’t wish it away. Someday you may wonder, “Where did it go?”
Updated post June 2018, originally published September 2014.