Now that my kids are older and are bigger than me, I often watch young moms with a twinge of sadness because I don’t have little ones anymore. I’m sure, with the passage of time, I have romanticized their childhoods and remember only the sweet things—not the times I walked around with the spanking spoon in my back pocket (It was very necessary, Tess Michelle). But regardless of my rose-colored glasses, I have gained some wisdom in my parenting journey that I would like to share.
And so, I have chosen to write a letter to all moms of little kids everywhere. If that is you, read on:
Dear Mom, yeah you, the exhausted one,
Do you realize how incredibly cute children are? Yes, even when they are snotty and stinky and sticky. God made children squeezably soft and appealing, now go look at yours, the ones you look at every day all day, with fresh eyes. Soon they will grow up and you will no longer be able to smell their sweet baby heads or nibble on their delicious ears. See them in all their childish quirkiness and adore.
You know the fort-building they do in the basement and the four-square they play together on the driveway? It will only last a time—a sweet golden time—and then they will be too busy with homework and projects and track meets to have any time to play. Are you giving them enough unstructured time to create potions out of berries, and to ride their bikes playing cops and robbers? Are you letting them eat popsicles on the sidewalk after they run through the sprinkler on a hot summer day? If you don’t savor your summers now, you will soon be home alone while all of your children are working their part time jobs, and you will have no one to take to the library or to the park or to Tropical Sno…and this will make you sad.
Now look at your oldest kids—what are they? 6 or 7? They are still children—not little adults—even thought they may seem that way when you compare them to your youngers. Let them be kids and don’t expect them to think or act or clean their messes up exactly like you would. If they want to wear the same Mighty Ducks t-shirt all summer long, let them. They will never get the chance to be this carefree—and dirty—again.
You know how your kids sometimes beg you to read to them and how you try to skip pages in the book to make it shorter? Don’t do that. Spend as much time as you can with them on your lap; pretty soon they will be too big and bony to sit there. Breathe in their curiosity and hunger for knowledge. Their brains are sponges. Help them soak up really good things—like scripture and music and words of adoration. You are the gatekeeper of their minds right now—don’t let the garbage in.
Revel in the things that capture their attention—maybe it’s frogs or princesses or the little ants on your front step. These childish affections will eventually be replaced by forced concentration on schoolwork and grades and sports. Soon, very soon, you will be going to bed before them because they have an analytical essay due the next day, and there will be no more conversations about poison dart frogs or Snow White or hard-working insects while tucking them in.
Even though it may feel like it, they will not be these ages indefinitely. They will not wear the cute jumper with the cat on the front or the flannel-lined jeans with the patches forever. When they have outgrown them, and you are folding these items to give them away, you will tear up because you will suddenly realize that childhood is fleeting, that your kids are growing, and that you have taken it all for granted and you can never get it back. This will make you yearn for them and their childish ways. It will make you wish you could stop the clock right now and keep them exactly as they are. But you won’t be able to stop it; everyone grows up. That’s just how life works—even if we don’t appreciate its sweetness.
After you eat supper tonight, all together on the screened porch, and after your little ones go outside to play on the swing set, I want you to sit with your husband in the pleasant summer breeze and watch them as they giggle and scream. Then, make a point to record that moment forever in your brain…because one day soon you will yearn for it.
And when they come in, and they are all bathed and beautiful and sleeping soundly in their beds, and after you have checked on them a million times to make sure they are still breathing, get on your knees and pray to God and say thank you for all of your blessings, your very generous blessings,
and this sweet,
Very sincerely yours,
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children,you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”