The words hit me like a punch in the chest.
I was sitting in our living room, along with the rest of our Bible study group. Our eyes were on the TV, which had just started playing the group video that accompanies each meeting.
“Don’t treat your kids like projects,” the pastor said. “Because if you treat them like projects when they’re young, they’ll treat you like projects when they’re older.”
For a few seconds, I almost lost my breath.
My kids ARE projects. That’s exactly how I think of them right now, I gulped.
My chest felt heavy as I pondered what that meant.
I treat my children like projects.
The fact is, most days, I feel like all I do is:
- Feed my kids
- Drive them places
- Tell them what to do
“Put your shoes on.” “Sit up straight.” “Pick up those toys.” “Brush your teeth.” “Be respectful.” “Stop hitting your brother.”
With 3 sons 5 and under, it’s true. The coaching is never-ending. The tasks are short, thankless and circular. The work never ends, and it is constant and necessary.
What about the real mothering that I crave? The influencing, the shaping of characters, the encouraging of hearts and all the warm fuzzies?
My deepest desire is that my life would be a beautiful journey that influences, inspires and encourages. But most days, it really just feels like one giant to-do list.
And that’s left me feeling empty.
Because I’m wiping butts and packing lunches and driving carpool. But I’m missing the hugs and the stories and the eye contact.
Because I’m sweeping Cheerios and making dinner. But I’m missing the love and the teaching and the memories.
Because I’m keeping kids alive. But I don’t feel that I’m leaving a legacy.
I’m doing today’s work. But I’m missing the eternal work.
And then, I realized something.
The love is in between the lines. The eternal work can happen right alongside today’s work, and even in the exact same moment.
When I tell my child to put his shoes on, instead of barking at him for taking too long, I can bend down, look him in the eye and tell him how much I just love those freckles on the end of his nose because they remind me of his daddy.
When I ask my son to put his toys away, instead of saying “good job” when he’s done, I can squeeze him in one, big hug and tell him that he is my most special treasure in this world.
When it’s time to go to bed, instead of rushing through nightly prayers and back-scratching, I can spend an extra 90 seconds saying the eternal things my boys will remember forever.
My children are people, not projects.
The thought no longer makes me feel like I’ve taken a punch to the chest.
Instead, it makes me swell with gratitude.
Because God gave me a gift: the supreme privilege of loving, treasuring, cherishing, encouraging and guiding these precious little people, every single day of my life.
And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
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