Recently I was looking at toddler and preschool videos of my two daughters, who are now braces-clad 12 and 13 year olds. Watching those years in retrospect, I can’t get over their cuteness. Prancing around in princess dresses, proudly demonstrating their mastery of somersaults, doing their best to shape the cookie dough into perfectly round balls.
What the videos don’t show, though, are the many long, hard days we had together. Days of exhaustion after yet another sleepless night. Days spent navigating tantrums. And days that felt endless as I poured out my heart to meet the needs of little ones that pretty much needed parental involvement 24/7 (can I get an “amen?”)
As one who has stood where you are standing, I wanted to share with you an entry from my journal written in the thick of those years. May it encourage you and spur you on as you raise your little ones, knowing that in the blink of an eye, you too will have teenagers in braces standing before you. The time is so short, mama. Soak it all in while you can.
Today was difficult. One of those days that leaves me feeling emotionally and physically drained. When I am frustrated with my small children, I long for the time when tantrums (in public, with hitting and biting) are a thing of the past. I look forward to intelligent conversations with them and their ability to make right choices without the threat of a time out.
Today as I prayed over the day and over my sometimes less-than-perfect parenting, I was struck by how very unique and precious this time is in their lives. Right now, their sun rises and sets on one person—me. There is one person they long to be with the most—me. There is one person whose love, or withholding of love, can send them to the moon or crush their tiny hearts.
That place I hold in their lives brings incredible responsibility but also incredible power. The power to bless them. The power to build in them a strong sense of their inherent value as ones created by their loving Father. The power to make them believe they are precious, one-of-a-kind, and truly delighted in, even on their worst day.
If I could just stop the “important task” I am focusing on long enough to make eye contact…
If I could let my youngest finish her sentences and take the time to answer her, rather than shooing her outside to the swing set…
If I could hold back my anger when they do something that pushes my buttons — buttons formed by my own upbringing so many years ago…
If I could stay in the present moment, instead of thinking ahead of all that needs to be done…
Could it be that the two bins of unfolded laundry from three days ago, the dishes on the counter, and the trail of ants my husband and I just discovered marching through the family room are less important than connecting with my two daughters?
The task-oriented side of me reasons that once I get “this” done or “that” done, then I can pay more attention to them. Yet, it never gets done. Ever. And so they wait. Wait for me to pour into their little souls what they need from me at this stage in their lives. Wait for me to speak my “yes” over their lives. Yes, you matter. Yes, you are more important than this task I am focused on. Yes, I enjoy you.
Yes, we can read that book together. Yes, I will color with you. Yes, I will play with you instead of washing the dishes. Yes, I still love you even though you misbehaved. Yes, you are important to me. Yes. Yes. Yes.
God, help me today to give my “yes” to these two little ones. Because for now, my “yes” matters more than anything. Because a day will come when I am shouting “yes” from the rooftops, and they may not be able to hear it.
If you are looking for an opportunity to say YES to your mothering today, ask yourself:
- What are the most important things to do today?
- What do I need to release so I can do the important things well?
Then surrender everything else to God. Lay down your:
- Responsibilities and “to do list” for the day.
- Burdens you are carrying.
- Children and your role as mother.
- Weaknesses, failures, exhaustion, or present struggle.
Doing this helps us to see that there is so much grace in our parenting. God will smooth out the rough edges and make up for what we lack. Because I’ll be honest, mamas, I feel like I didn’t make the most of my time with my daughters when they were small. It seemed like before I knew it, they were off to full-time kindergarten!
But at the end of the day, God is their ultimate parent and our shortcomings can serve to point them to their need for their perfect Father, who will always give them his “yes.”
Holli Aparicio is a homeschooling mom to Lydia (13) and Sofia (12) and a lover of all things prayer. She has served in prayer ministry roles at Substance Church, Prayer Ventures and Arise Ministries and as a guest writer for the Substance Moms Blog. When she isn’t busy homeschooling her two daughters, she takes great joy in equipping others to encounter God in prayer and hear his voice through workshops and retreats. She lives with her husband, Ricardo, and her two lovely daughters in Maple Grove, Minnesota.