Our Children for Our Joy
Note: This article now appears in Desiring God’s free ebook Mom Enough, available in three electronic formats, as well as paperback.
I dropped my son off at his school and yelled my usual through the rolled down window, “I love you. Make good choices. Obey your teacher.” As I began to roll up the window and drive away, my little first grader took his small hand to his mouth and blew me a kiss.
It was like everything stopped at that moment.
I realized how quickly this season would last. Would he blow me a kiss when he’s 16 years old? I don’t know. I blew him a kiss back and he waved to me, mouthing the words “Bye, Mom.” I was overwhelmed. I wished I could freeze that point in time.
I like to call my children sweet ragamuffins. Motherhood is challenging. My kids don’t obey me every time I ask them to do something. They are rambunctious, loud, and messy. And they are sweet. They are gifts. Like many moms, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. What I think we can so often forget, though, is that motherhood isn’t a task to be checked off like laundry. It is a calling.
Maybe the word “calling” makes you want to run and hide. For many, “calling” can sound as if motherhood is your only identity, that is all encompassing and you never get a break from your endless responsibilities. This is not true. You are likely called to be a wife and church member and friend as well (and the list could go on). So motherhood is not your only identity; it is a part of your identity. And there is a weight to that. Mothers are more than just mothers, but we are never less. God’s word instructs us to train up our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). I can’t think of a greater challenge given to us parents. As one in the throes of raising and teaching young children, I am desperate for Jesus.
Gifts to Enjoy
But I don’t think remembering the responsibility to train our children is the best way we embrace and savor these short days we have with them. Remember that “every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17). Our children are not tasks to complete, but gifts to enjoy. And we do this by remembering that they are truly gifts from God. Yes, even when they stand in the hall refusing to put away their socks, or when they throw their cereal on the floor, or when they make it almost impossible to complete a trip to the grocery store. Those are trials mothers face weekly and yes, even they are gifts.
Paul, instructing Timothy to challenge the rich to put their hope in God instead of their wealth, reminds us that it is God who provides all things for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17). Our children aren’t meant to be checked off a list. They are to be delighted in. As with every gift we receive, we must be careful not to idolize our children. Only God should be worshipped. But what if we began to think of our kids as true gifts from God aimed at our enjoyment, both in our kids and in God through them.
A Call to Treasure
I think of how much I enjoy looking at colorful birds at the zoo. They are exotic creatures, each with their unique beaks and beautiful mosaic of feathers. They are a wonder of God’s creation, and he cares for them. But not more than he cares for us: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26).
In a similar way, I can think of many things I enjoy, but I value my kids more. I love looking into my kids’ precious eyes. I want to get into the world of their God-given personalities and take in their laughs and answer their questions. I want to enjoy them.
Maybe that’s precisely what the main thing of this mommy calling is all about. Maybe it’s not as much a call to train your kids as it is a call to treasure them.
Our children won’t be our little children forever. Let’s enjoy these days that God has given us. They are his gifts, glimmers of his goodness, which leads us to say with Lewis, “What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary sparkles are like this!”
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