It's something I've said many times while talking to other people about raising children: "There's nothing I'd rather be doing!" But when I heard the words come out of my mouth a while back I felt convicted at how much untruth was there. Overall, there really is nothing I'd rather be doing. I'm not at all interested in a career or in having some other life; I've always wanted to be a mama and spend my days caring for my family.
But there are moments, far too many of them, that I prove by my actions that there are other things I'd rather be doing. I say it by my choices when I sit at the computer and tune out the voices of my children. Or when I'm lost in my thoughts and making vague "uh-huh" sort of noises at all the appropriate places while Peregrine talks on and on.... and on. I nod and smile, but I'm not really paying attention. Or when I just want to finish up one of my projects, or an article I'm reading, and I overlook the squabbling when I really should get up and deal with it. I could go on, but I think you get the point.
How well I relate to Saint Paul's words in Romans: "For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do." It seems I start each day determined to do better, to not become distracted, to really be attentive. When I succeed at these things I'm so much happier, and so are my kids. They are happier because they're getting all of me, not some portion of me while the other part of me is busy doing something else. When I put my other desires aside our days go so much smoother. I enjoy my kids more, because I'm really with them. I notice little attitudes and deal with them before they become big attitudes. I take time to praise the little kindnesses and encourage them to grow.
What it comes down to is dying to myself, of putting aside my own interests, relationships, and pursuits and pouring myself into these three small and precious people whom God has entrusted to my care. I can't imagine a higher calling, and I fall so short of it. There are so many other things that beckon to me, that call for my attention. And each day, each moment I am making choices that are shaping the lives and souls of my children. I am ashamed to say that far too often I choose me over them.
These thoughts have been in my head for quite some time, but yesterday's sad news of the a three year old boy who died suddenly really shook me up. They are a family much like we are, three children, lovers of Jesus, homeschooling, living and loving one another. And suddenly, unexpectedly, one child is gone Home. I grieve for them, I pray for them, and I wonder; how would my days look if I knew one of my children would be taken tomorrow, or next week? I think I would be making different choices in the way I spend my time. I would spend less time doing trivial things, less time lost in my own thoughts and cares.
I would spend more time looking into the eyes of my children, eyes that say so much ("blues-eyes like Daddy's", and "eyes like the sea after a storm" and bright merry round baby eyes that light up at the sight of me.) I would spend more time building forts and having picnics, snuggling up under blankets with books, and lying on the floor giggling together. I would spend less time creating things for my children and instead create things with them.
I am blessed, and yet so often I brush off these blessings and chase after other things, things that won't last but will only please me for a moment. God forgive me, and God help me to do what is important. Help me to love my children as I ought, to delight in being with them, to find my life in being with them. May I truly say about raising them, that there is nothing I'd rather be doing!