Let’s help our children to know that we can celebrate the passing of time rather than resist it by living in the moment.
A silent war was being waged in our home. Almost every day for going on twenty-five years, I make dinner. For some strange reason, my family expects it every night. Go figure! And, from the time my kids were very young, they were asked to help set the table.
Many nights, in order to keep them out of the kitchen at the most critical moment when everything is getting ready to be served up, I would put the placemats, silverware, and napkins on the edge of the kitchen island so they could simply grab them and start setting the table. By the time they were no longer sitting in a high chair or booster seat, I would always set out two ‘big’ (dinner) forks and two ‘small’ (salad) forks. Because, at that time, there were two older people in our home and two younger people in our home and I knew it was easier for those two younger people to use slightly smaller forks.
But, then one day, I noticed that a certain boy who had recently turned twelve years old began to switch out his little fork for a big fork when it was his turn to set the table. This pattern began to repeat night after night. In my hurry to get dinner finished, I would grab the usual silverware and, soon enough, one fork would be upgraded. Suddenly, that big fork became symbolic. Symbolic of him growing up, exerting his independence, and wanting us to treat him differently. It dawned on me that we had reached the point where his shoe size was bigger than mine. He was wearing deodorant and his voice was going through all of the kinks that come with deepening. His hands no longer fit inside my own and they were more than capable of using a big fork. And yet, I wasn’t ready for him to have it. In fact, it was hard for me to not give him the little plastic airplane fork he used when he was two years old and I’ve never been able to get rid of it.
Being in the Here and Now
Sometimes we will spend an evening watching family videos together. I’m always a bit hesitant to do this because quite often it ends with me wanting to curl up in the fetal position and bawl my eyes out of the fact that my babies are no longer babies anymore. One home movie we recently watched was from the year 2006 when my son, who is now twenty, was only three years old. And, as we watched, I felt like I was peeking into someone else’s life. Obviously, I knew it was us, but it seemed like a completely different family; a family from a lifetime ago. In that moment, I was reminded of why we are always encouraged to live in the present moment as parents. There’s a reason we have to be in the here and now. In many ways, it’s an act of self-preservation.
You see, if I focus too much on the past, on that darling, precious little boy of mine, I’ll just wallow in it. I’ll wish I had done more, I’ll question if I made the right decisions and I might even make him feel like I would prefer him as that darling, precious little boy instead of the wonderful young man he’s becoming. But, if I focus too much on the future, on all of the ‘what ifs’ and worry about his choices before he’s even made them, then I might start parenting out of fear. I might even try to predict what will happen and not leave room for the dozens of forks in the road that surely lie ahead.
Most importantly, I am told in God’s Word that our lives are so fleeting that to spend time fretting over either the past or the future is to presume that I have the ability to control that which falls under the Sovereignty of the Lord. “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)
Learn to Celebrate the Passing of Time
Someday, years from now, we will watch home movies of the year 2023. And it will seem like I am peeking into the life of another family. I will have vague memories of those moments but my life will be so consumed with what is currently happening that it will seem like another lifetime. So, I embrace this season…this day…this moment. And I choose to declare that the emotional war in my heart between ‘what could have been’ and ‘what might be yet to come’ is over. I’m waving the white flag. I want my children to know that it is good and proper that they grow up and leave the nest. I want them to know that I can celebrate the passing of time rather than resist it even if there may be a few bittersweet tears that spill over from time to time.
In His Word
“This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink, and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot, and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.” Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
In Your Life
Does fear of the future or worry about past decisions keep you from being present with your children in their current stage of life? Have your children ever expressed guilty feelings over the fact that they are growing up knowing that it is a difficult experience for you? Take some time this week to meditate on the verses in this devotional and ask the Lord to help you to embrace this season in your and your children’s lives. Confess any worry or fear that is keeping you from trusting in Him and pray for an increased trust in God’s sovereignty over the past, present, and future.
Join me as we take a journey through the seasons of the year in my book ‘Life in Season’ with faith-filled stories, encouraging devotions, beautiful photographs, DIY projects, and recipes. Everything you need to slow down, embrace the beauty and the struggle, and celebrate the moments that fill your heart and home. You can find it here.