Do you ever catch yourself looking so much forward to the next day or even the next stage of life that you forget to enjoy the moment you are in? I know I have. When I was a child I remember feeling like the day couldn’t come fast enough when I would be a ‘grown-up.’ I remember 16 being such a far-off, exotic age, but one I couldn’t WAIT to reach, if only because I would be able to drive. Then 18 became the target date, when I would be an ‘adult’ (yeah, that’s really what I thought…) and be able to make my own decisions, and even vote. (Incidentally, the ’92 campaign was my first election, and I haven’t missed one since!)
When I reached my 20’s I didn’t so much look forward to a different age as a different life. It wasn’t that my life was bad, but I always wanted the next thing. When I was single I pined for the days when I would eventually find Mrs. Right and settle down. When Kim and I got married, we both looked forward to the day when we would have our first child. Once Nathaniel came, almost 3 years into our marriage, I found myself looking forward to the day when he would be able to sleep through the night, roll over, talk, eat ‘people-food,’ sit, crawl, walk, run, be potty-trained, and on and on. For each of our 3 babies after I found myself looking forward to the next stage, always excited, always anticipating…
And now we are experiencing the last few months of ‘babyhood’ for our very last baby, Grace. I think I have finally learned how to slow down, just a little, but perhaps a little too late. I always have joked with Kim that I can’t wait until the labor-intensive stages of raising our children are over, when we will finally be ‘free’ of diapers (oh so many diapers…) and watching babies like hawks to make sure they don’t write on the walls or fall down the steps. It IS a lot, especially with 4, but I know from talking with parents of older kids that our adventures are really just beginning.
At 37, looking back on my life to this point, I wish I had been a little wiser, had enjoyed each stage a little more. God has been so good to me, to us, but in the moment of each stage of my life I didn’t always believe that. How much better could my childhood have been if I had lived in the moment, had realized that I would have only one childhood, then it’s over for good – that the security and joy I was feeling then would never, ever, be replicated. When I was single and having fun with friends, might I have enjoyed it more if I had trusted God to bring along the right woman (as He eventually did!) instead of wondering where ‘she’ was at 22, so worried that I would die an old cranky bachelor? Kim and I had a wonderful life before our children and had many great times, but how much more fun would it have been to enjoy every moment of our life together, trusting God to bring children along in His time?
Today I put Grace to bed. I asked her to ‘give me love’ (she is 20 months old), and she put her head next to mine and giggled, as she always does when I ask that (unless she’s pouting). There will never be another time when she is that small, when I can hold her in my arms and cuddle her next to me like that, when her head rests on my shoulder in total trust and contentment. Soon she’ll be out of diapers, then, before we know it, out of our house entirely. There’s certainly nothing wrong with being excited about the future, but I want to relish, to savor, every moment we have with our children and each other. Life is so fleeting. It could end any second, for any of us. God gives us all a finite number of seconds on this earth, and I want to get better at being thankful for the uniqueness of each and every one.
Philippians 4:11 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”