Life is so very busy right now, dizzying in its demands. The days rush by, a whirlwind of laundry, housework, paperwork, appointments, driving, cooking, cleaning, studying, working, parenting, praying. Each day orchestrating this family of eight is its own little storm. Each day I tackle its demands and each night I tumble into bed after kissing a certain small, tousled head.
I find myself lately gazing at him sleeping, amazed at how long he is, stretched out on the bed. It used to seem that the days flew by. Now it seems that it is the years that rush past in a blur.
I have no baby anymore.
For more than fifteen years, I always had a baby. But this little guy, as much as he loves snuggles and kisses, sternly reminds me that he is positively, definitely “not a baby.” And he is right.
I thought life at this point would be different. I thought I would have more time “once the kids were older.” But no. I have never been so busy. What happened to browsing through cookbooks, reading novels, playdates, story times, trips to the zoo, afternoons at the park, walks with the stroller, naps? Yes, especially naps. What happened to naps?
Instead, so often, he tags along as I do life. He doesn’t know any different, and he makes the best of it, taking along his toys and chattering away happily in the backseat. When we are home, he doesn’t ask me to play with him anymore. Maybe because he’s older. But maybe because he knows the answer. “Just a minute!” he hears so often. “I just have to ___ first.”
Well, today, little boy, I choose you.
Today the dishes will stay in the sink, the crumbs on the floor, the laundry in the hamper. Today the emails will go unread and the bills will stay in the pile. Today we will eat leftovers.
Today the sunshine calls us outside and into that swing you love. This time, I will tickle your toes as you fly past me. Today we will blow bubbles and chase them, giggling as they pop into a tiny spray. Today I will sit on the floor and race cars and do puzzles. Today I will read you stories without glancing at the clock. Today I will sit and listen to you, looking in your eyes, without checking my phone. Today I will enjoy your chatter. I will watch the sunshine play in your wispy hair and I will breathe in deeply the smell of little boy.
Tomorrow, my love again will take on its other shape – the love that is shown by its provision for you and for our family. I will love you by bending over the laundry basket of your small clothes. I will love you by cleaning your bathtub, cooking your dinner, sorting your toys, driving your beloved brothers and sisters to school and practice. I will love you by working to help provide a little bit for all those extra expenses that seem to crop up daily.
But I promise you this: all of our tomorrows will have a little bit more of today. Every tomorrow will have a little more play, a little more joy, a little time for you.
Because last time I had one child at home everyday, he was my only one. And the days stretched long before me.
But I know now what comes next.
I know how soon you will be grabbing the keys and heading off to work, or to college. I know how it will take my breath away with its suddenness. I know that eighteen years is like a flash. And I want to be present – fully present – for all of it.
Because long before I chose you, God chose me.
God chose me to be your Mommy.
I worry sometimes that I don’t have time or enough of me to give, but I should know better. The Giver of all Good Gifts gave me you, and He gave me all I have to give you. He will multiply my time and my little loaves and few fish. Time with you will bless all my other efforts with fruitfulness. Until I have baskets left over.
And now, little monkey, let’s go. The air smells like orange blossoms and the breeze has blown from heaven to call us outside. Race you to the swing.