She went to a sleepover, and she left them at home. The blanket she's slept with practically since birth and the small stuffed bee that have gone everywhere with her if she's sleeping away from home were still in her bed. She told me before she left that she was leaving them at home. In that moment, a little piece of childhood fell away, and a little piece of my heart was sad.
I've known for a while now that my girls are growing up. My 12-year-old is closer to leaving home than she is to kindergarten. I've been able to comfort myself with the fact that my 10-year-old is still more little girl than young woman. But when she left those comfort items at home, I realized that she's growing up quickly, too.
I'll be honest. I don't miss the days of being woken in the middle of the night and having to work my schedule around feedings and naps. But I do miss the days of watching faces light up with wonder when a butterfly flew by or an airplane appeared in the sky. I do miss giggles for no reason and the belief that everyone is your friend.
Growing up isn't a bad thing. Our goal as parents is to raise kids who are ready to leave home and live on their own. The end game is to move our kids from dependence on us to dependence on God. But that doesn't mean we won't miss some of those more precious, innocent moments as our kids grow.
That blanket and bee that were left behind, though, reminded me to savor the moments we have left with our girls at home. They reminded me that while there's plenty of work for me to do, plenty of ministry for me to be involved in, and plenty of activities for my girls to do, we have to make time together as a family a priority. We have to treasure the moments we have left until they leave home.
God may call us to minister to others outside our homes, but His first calling to us is to be ministers to our families, missionaries to our kids. If we aren't using the teachable moments at home, then we can't expect to find joy and peace in ministry outside of our homes. If we aren't loving our families well, we can't expect to be blessed as we love those outside our family.
A small stuffed bee and a tattered blanket have reminded me that my first ministry, my first calling is to love and teach my family. I need to enjoy my kids and focus on teaching them the things they need to know to be able to follow Jesus as they leave home. I need to make loving my husband a priority. Everything else is secondary, and if it needs to, it will wait.
Because someday in the not-too-distant future, the well-loved bee and blanket will be in a box, and the laughter of little girls will no longer ring through my house. I don't want to be so focused on other things that I miss enjoying these moments while they last.