Dear Neighborhood Mom,
“Someday I’ll be able to take a leisurely walk with my husband in the morning,” you commented wistfully as Craig and I walked by the elementary school bus stop that first week of school.
Having made lunches, read the Bible, seen my high schoolers off, and loaded the dishwasher, I was glad to walk out the door with my husband and dogs. A peaceful walk counterbalanced our usual morning whirlwind of irritated-at-life, crabby-during-devotions, storm-out-the-door teenagers.
We saw your oldest son whiz by on a bicycle earlier, the radiant grin under the helmet not unlike your husband’s when he rides. As you walked your two boys to the bus stop, preschooler Elizabeth boldly tried to keep up with big brothers, all the while maintaining a clutch-hold on mom’s pants. Dear neighbor mom, your coffee in one hand and the other arm draped around Elizabeth at the bus stop with your boys, you are the epitome of a supportive mom. Your love for your kids is obvious and precious. Strolling past you and hearing your comment took me back to my harried young mom days.
I remember the loads of laundry, dutifully thrown into the washing machine early in the morning, as the rest of the dirty clothes mounded up in dune-like ridges across the floor. The dishes piled high and spills congealed on the counter waiting for me to clean in my “free” moments, as little ones demanded help and guidance getting ready for school. Brushing hair, wiping milk off of sweet little faces, and grabbing backpacks was all part of the rush to leave. Toys lay strewn across the floor, dropped mid-game in the hurried frenzy to get everyone out the door on time.
Household maintenance, job responsibilities, family paperwork, and all the other non-parenting duties get pushed to lower priority in the midst of the pressing immediacy of young children’s needs. Please know that this busyness is a season of stages and challenges in life that will change. Someday you will again sleep in, have uninterrupted conversations with your husband, and be left alone in the bathroom!
I used to hate it when older women told me to savor this time of young children “because it passes by so fast.” I remember one woman chased me down to speak those words to me as I held a baby in one arm, balanced a tantruming toddler and a diaper bag with the other hand, and tried to open the car door. It had been a long morning and a tough wait for a pediatrician appointment, and I needed to get the saturated-diaper baby and starving toddler home. I know I growled at the woman, if not literally, then figuratively with a dismissive comment. I resolved then to never say anything like that to other young mothers, even on the chance that her words would eventually prove true.
Instead, I want to encourage you in your mothering. Someday you will have the luxury of completing breakfast chores while older children dress themselves. They will learn to brush, groom, and toilet completely on their own. Hard to imagine from where you are parenting now, I am sure. This morning, I read from the Bible as my teenagers foraged for their own breakfast – a level of independence I never imagined when my kids were your kids’ age. Your hard work will pay off, and they will have learned, and applied, the many lessons you are teaching them, day after fatiguing day.
Thank you for contributing so much to our community in your church and job roles, but I want to especially thank you for loving your four little ones as your main role. May God bless you with strength, patience, and parenting wisdom as you meet the daily challenges of raising little children.