Today is traditionally the day that I put away all things Christmas-y.
I never imagined before I had children that we would have a tree that could be disassembled and put in a box, and although I miss the pine smell teasing my olfactory senses from a real tree as I enter the room, the plug-in wafting the balsam fragrance does just fine. Two babies in 13 months and three babies in three and a half years had me trying things I never thought I would!
Speaking of my babies - all three of them - I am realizing they are not babies anymore. I needed only to look at their wish lists this Christmas to realize that their gift choices were much more adult-like in price than the toys they used to receive. My dollar went a lot farther just a couple years ago. I found myself gulping back the tears at the realization that there may not be a request for a doll from my youngest after this year. I glanced out of my peripheral vision at my almost thirteen-year-old daughter as we watched a "girl" movie together. Didn't I just snap a picture of her giving her grandma a slobbery two-year-old kiss with her adorable bed-head hair standing straight up? Where did the eleven Christmases in between go? And my handsome, noble little man has turned into a fourteen-year-old who will spend four more Christmases with us before he becomes a college student.
I realized in a profound, jolting way this year that a season of life has passed - and seemingly - right under my nose. The Lord has been calling me back to the most noble profession I believe I can have - being a godly wife and mother. I am learning, oh so painfully slowly, that I must live in the moment. That I cannot live my life two years from now, five years from now. I do not have five years anymore before my oldest will leave my nest and make his way into a world that is hopelessly impossible to navigate without Jesus. Have I done enough? Do he and his sisters know how much I love them, how I long more than anything to have my children walk in the truth?
I am no longer the thirty-something wife and mother who has children with physically demanding needs. I do not drop into bed at night, completely exhausted from running after three little ones and meeting their every need. I have time alone now. The house is quiet from 8 am to 3:30 pm Monday through Friday on most given weeks. Suddenly, the truth is dawning on me that my secret wish of having as much time as I want alone is going to be here sooner than I want it to be. There will come a day when there is no mess to clean that I didn't make. The noise level that can be irritating at times will be replaced by a deafening silence. The laundry that never gets done will be manageable again. I won't need to look for five peoples' socks whose pair I am sure get eaten by my dryer. My grocery bill will not depress me in its amount as I buy for two instead of what seems like ten now. My hair-dryer will never not be where I last put it, the beds will be made, and I will long for the raucousness that has fallen silent. I am the forty-something wife and mother who is preparing for her chicks to leave the nest.
What will my children remember about their childhoods? That I was self-absorbed? That I ministered to others, but not to them? Dear Jesus, please let it not be so! I must treasure each day with them. I need to let them see how much I love their daddy, how much a good, solid marriage is something they must each be willing to work for and pray for. I need to hug them and tell them daily why I am privileged to be their mother.
Because one day...there will be no more days left.
Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people),
Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.
Ephesians 5:15-17 (Amplified)