image credit: flickrphotomy_southborough
As we wound through the aisle on that end-of-summer scavenger hunt called school supply shopping, it hit me. Her list didn’t include glue this year. I pointed this out to my soon-to-be second-grader and teased her: “That means no more fun! It’s hard-core learning time now!”
We laughed but inside, part of my mama heart sniffled a bit. I know it’s cliched to lament the passing of time and the growing up that is too fast and the firsts and lasts that will never come again. But still it hurts a bit.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m excited for her to grow up! An independent child who can buckle her own seat belt, wash her own hair, and nuke her own mac and cheese is pretty much a dream come true for a mom like me. But when she started acting a little clingy lately — grabbing my hand in the parking lot, asking me to read her another bedtime story, wanting me to sit right next to her as she colors and crafts at the dining room table — I must admit that I didn’t mind.
As a perpetual time-waster and world-class procrastinator, a verse that’s always stuck out to me is an exhortation from Paul. He urges us in Ephesians to make the best use of our time, to make the most of every opportunity. He says that these days are bad ones, so we must redeem the time.
Redeem the time. Or, as my mama translation tells my heart, don’t wish away the time. Don’t spend so much energy looking forward to the weekend or the vacation or the return of the school year or the end of soccer season that we miss the beauty of today! Don’t resent the time, longing for an end to this season or phase that challenges us and exhausts us.
That doesn’t mean we don’t have moments or days or weeks of hard parenting. It means, to me, that even on those most trying and tiring days, we find something in that time to appreciate, to enjoy, to be thankful for.
Some days, though . . . some days it feels near impossible to find something redeeming. Those are the days we thank God for nap times or bedtimes or chocolate hidden on the top shelf of the pantry. Right? Some days (like the ones a few weeks from now, when we’re rushing from piano lessons to dinner to DO-YOUR-HOMEWORK to the bathtub?) hearing that we must redeem the time feels too.hard.
So rather than looking at that verse and hearing all the things I MUST NOT DO as a mom (because good grief, who needs more of THAT?!), this year I’m taking a more positive, proactive approach. I’m leaning on David’s words this time, from Psalm 90, when he asks God to teach us to number our days.
Ahhh, yes. That feels better. Numbering my days will redeem this time God’s given me with my girls — and, as David prays, give me a heart of wisdom. (And if there’s one thing I do need as a mom, it is wisdom!)
The school year begins for us today, and this is my prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father,
Teach me to number my days.
Teach me to count the joy in the delightful and the disgusting,
to count the beauty in the hard and the happy.
Teach me to hold on — and to let go, but always to lean on You.
Teach me to love them, Lord, the way you love me.
Teach me to rest in your peace, even when I’m standing in chaos.
Teach me to remember your Truth, even when we face lies and loss.
Teach me to keep my eyes on you, God — and to point my girls to you as well.
Teach me to redeem this time, this season, this phase –
to remember that you are in this, with me, holding up my arms and holding them, too.
Teach me to be humble and to learn, even as they learn this school year.
Teach me to be strong and to persevere, just as they will press on this year.
Teach me to number my days and give me a heart of wisdom, Lord.
Teach me to love you and to love them every moment, every day, every season, every year.