Before I had kids, I had a rosy picture in my head of what being a mom would be like. My kids and I would giggle and smile our way through the next 18 years. They would be well-behaved. We'd make memories. When one of them did something wrong, we'd have a rational discussion about it, they would see the error of their ways, and we would go back to our giggles and smiles.
I think about those pre-kid daydreams and laugh hysterically. I had no idea there would be days when I would lock myself in the bathroom just to get a few minutes of peace and quiet. I had no concept that a rational discussion is not something you can have with a 2-year-old, and sometimes not with a hormonal 12-year-old. I didn't envision the fear that comes with every trip to the emergency room or urgent care with yet another injury or illness.
We have plenty of days of giggles and smiles, but we probably have more days where everything isn't perfect. We sometimes have slamming doors and stomping feet. We have days when I don't want to play another game of Monopoly or Mario Kart. We have days when I look at my girls and wonder who raised them because the behaviors they're exhibiting aren't anything like what we've been teaching them.
The truth is, there's no family in the world that is smiles and giggles all the time. This parenting thing is hard. It's a constant struggle to know if you're doing the right thing for the right kid. We often look back at decisions we made and wish we had done something different. We wonder if a different parenting choice would have resulted in a different result for our kids.
I read a blog post the other day about how it's a lie that we should savor every moment with our kids because every moment isn't worth savoring. This writer was tired of hearing that our kids are only little for a while so every moment is precious. While I agree that not every parenting moment is worth savoring (if I never have to clean up after a puking kid again, I could live with that), I do think that sometimes the only thing keeping me sane is the fact that I know these moments won't come again.
Knowing that my girls are quickly growing up keeps me at the table for another game of Monopoly. It keeps me calm (sometimes) when they do something wrong. It keeps me from digging in my heels to battle it out with one of them over something that doesn't really matter. It keeps us giggling and smiling on days when everything is going well.
So, while I'm not going to tell you to savor every moment (because, really, who savors a 2-year-old temper tantrum in the middle of Walmart?), I am going to remind you that your kids are only yours for a short time. Use that time wisely. Remember that the moments do matter. Remember that even in the tough days, God is in the trenches with you. Remember to grab the teachable moments because they might not come again.
We are each blessed with "full quivers" of children. "Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him" (Psalm 127:3). Even on the days they may not seem like it, your kids are a reward from God.
You don't have to savor every moment on this parenting journey but do remember that every moment counts.