I think I would be hard-pressed to find a mother of small children who hasn't heard the advice “Enjoy every second – they grow up so fast!” And any mother who is dedicated to her children and loves them beyond words would tell you that she tries. Oh, how she tries to “enjoy every second”. But the truth is, that's kind of impossible in this sinful world in which we live. So this isn't one of those posts. This last Labor Day weekend marked our first real “vacation” as a family of six (seven, if you count the dog). I was filled with cautious excitement about the weekend: I couldn't wait to be back in the Northwoods at my parents' cabin but I also wasn't quite sure how the four children we were bringing would fair. The girls, my two older ones, couldn't have been more excited and I had good faith that they would be great with lots to do and look at – they love the outdoors almost as much as I do. No, it wasn't them I was worried about.
It was my almost-two-year-old boys.
The last time I had taken them “up north” was last Labor Day when they could not yet walk on their own and were still content to be confined to a doorway jumper or highchair. This is definitely no longer the case.
Despite my trepidation, the little men did great – they fared well on the nearly five hour drive up and squealed with excitement when we meandered down the spardust gravel driveway after 10 'o clock on Friday night. They loved exploring their new surroundings, waving to each boat that passed on the river, watching the chipmunks fill their cheeks with peanuts and spending so much time with Bama and Boppa.
The most challenging part was keeping both my five-year-old daughters and the boys happy. At the same time. In the same place. If you have more than one child, you can appreciate the “different ages, different stages” dilemma. So often, my husband and I resort to the divide & conquer method.
Or, depending on the day, I like to call it the “divide & survive” method.
Saturday morning was no different. My husband fished off the end of the pier with the girls, something the boys would've loved to have watched; however, two excited girls whipping poles with hooks over their shoulders on a small pier landing does not mix well with two unaware, curious little boys. So the boys and I opted for a quiet, slooooooow stroll with Bama down the gravel driveway to search for rocks, leaves, mushrooms and any other interesting pieces of nature we could find.
We dug the trusty (pink!) wagons out of the garage and set off down the drive. As each boy pulled (or attempted to push) his wagon, I was taken back 3 years ago to when my girls had used those same wagons on countless “drive way strolls”, collecting whatever they could find and then turning right around upon reaching the road and heading home with their treasures.
And I remember feeling antsy. Unsettled.
I remember thinking, “Really? We came all of this way to walk a driveway? There are so many other things I would rather be spending my time doing.”
But I didn't feel that way on this Saturday.
Maybe time has made my wiser. Maybe the rocket-fast growth of my daughters has taught me to appreciate the moments and never take them for granted. Maybe I now value and understand what a slow walk in the woods with my mom and my boys could do for this tired mama's soul. This time around I didn't feel rushed, hurried or bothered by the fact that it took us ten whole minutes to cover two feet of ground (and then sometimes one would even find a rock he had missed and turn around to retrace those last two feet).
This time I soaked it all in.
This time I took the opportunity God had given me to stand in awe at His amazing creation and to allow my heart to swell with utter joy and gratitude for these precious, adorable little boys He has given me. This time I was still.
Remember how I told you this wasn't a post preaching at young moms to enjoy every moment, every minute of these little years which so often leave us feeling exhausted and under-appreciated? Because that's not what I learned on this slow walk down an up-north driveway. Instead, I saw an opportunity God was giving me to slow down, catch my breath, enjoy my boys and marvel at His majestic ways. As a mother of four kids under the age of six, there are few moments like this in my day-to-day existence. But when God sets one so blatantly before me, I pray I'm not too busy thinking about the next thing or what I could be doing instead that I miss it.