My husband is someone who goes through life always trying to be better…a better husband, a better dad, a better sibling, a better son/son in law, a better friend and a better follower of Jesus. The thing is– he’s not trying to be better than anyone else, just better than himself. He sees his faults and tries to fix them. In my opinion, it’s a good quality to have, because you are constantly trying to make yourself better than you were the day before.
He’s always reading some parenting book and listening to advice from those he trusts. So when he came home the other day with a look of content, saying “Babe, today I heard the best parenting advice I think I’ll ever hear!” I was very intrigued. “This is it!” I thought. “What he’s about to tell me will instantly make me the best mom ever.”
He said, “The days are long, but the years are short.” That’s it. That’s all he said. Nothing more. If he had a mic in his hand, he would have dropped it, and left his hand in the air for way too long. He looked at me as if I should be jumping up and down yelling from the rooftop that I had just figured it all out. He certainly had had his “Ah ha” moment (Oprah would be so proud) and was clearly waiting for me to have mine, but instead, I just stared at him, waiting for him to go on, but he didn’t.
Now I know what you all are thinking…”DUH! Don’t you get it? It’s so simple!” And that’s just it, it was so simple that it didn’t hit me like I thought it would. I know why he was telling me this, because my days ARE long. They are filled with three loud rambunctious and smelly boys, dirty diapers, changing sheets, checking homework, screaming and crying, cleaning up messes, laundry, carpool, cooking (which include many failed dinners), play dates, bath times, blowing noses, wiping butts, cleaning, grocery shopping, picking up toys, talking in baby voices (ya ya, I know I’m not supposed to do that, something about IQ level), football, basketball, soccer and any other sport you can think of. And on top of that I need to find time to shower, brush my teeth and hopefully eat at least one meal during the day. I understood what he was saying and it certainly was a great motivational quote but it didn’t change my life…until a few days later.
My oldest is 9. NINE!!!! Just typing that out makes my heart hurt. He’s my cuddler. He’s always asking to snuggle, or for a hug, or to sit with him, read with him, be near him. If I am being honest, it can be exhausting, or at the very least, it takes away from some other things I “think” I need to be doing i.e. the list above.
So the other night, I went into his room to say goodnight to him and just like previous nights, he asked me to lay down with him as he fell asleep. When he was real young, it was just part of our routine. I’d lay with him, sing with him, pray with him and rub his back as he fell asleep. But as he got older, and was able to read on his own and do his own thing, I started to think that time was better spent washing the dishes, doing a load of laundry or just relaxing on my own.
So when he asked me to lay with him, I could tell, that he expected me to say “not tonight” again. And I did. I told him I couldn’t tonight and that I needed to go do the laundry and clean up after dinner. I kissed him goodnight and started to walk out of his room. But as I stepped through his doorway, something jolted me to a complete halt. I couldn’t move. It was like what I would imagine being slapped in the face would feel like. The only thing I could say to myself or think of is, “The days are long, but the years are short.”
I turned on my heels and went back in. He popped his head up and asked what I was doing. I told him that I changed my mind. He laughed at me and scooted over so I could lay with him, a look of complete content and happiness on his face.
Are the days still long? Yes. But I promised myself as I lied next to my son I wouldn’t grow old and regret letting the years slip by. I want to look back at these 18 years I have each of my children under my roof with no regrets. Only memories of cuddles, kisses, soft lullabies and whispered “I love you’s” all while the dirty dishes pile up and the laundry is left for another day.
I don’t always say yes, and that’s OK. But I make sure I am saying yes more than I say no. Each day is a new opportunity to show your children you are present, in tune to them, enjoy their company and love them fiercely. That’s all they really want. It’s never too late to start.