Three month old Silas’s meningitis scare this past weekend showed me three important things.
First, I don’t spend enough time WITH my kids. Sure, we are always together. But, we are also ALWAYS BUSY. BUSY getting school done. BUSY cleaning house. I’m BUSY balancing my checkbook while Brook Lynne holds the baby for a few minutes. The little ones are BUSY watching their umpteenth show on Netflix while I get dinner on the table and the older kids are getting ready for church. BUSY, BUSY, BUSY all the time.
Second, I noticed that my kids are not as well-behaved as they used to be. I realize that my kids are pretty well-behaved and I know that they have sweet hearts. But, that’s not enough. If we were ever in a dangerous situation, I don’t know that I could trust my kids to respond to me immediately. It would be much more likely that they would respond, “Why?” And, trips to the store with all the kids have been very frustrating lately. By the time I get to the register, I am completely frazzled. Your sweet heart might be saying, “But, Darlene, that’s normal for kids. And you have EIGHT.” But I know better. The world gives kids permission to express themselves at others’ expense. I disagree with that philosophy. Unconditional love is being a blessing to those that you are around (putting others first), even if it’s just your momma at the grocery store.
The third thing I noticed is that in spite of being so focused on figuring out how to live in a small house and how to get homeschooling done, we aren’t in any better a place now than we were a year ago. The house is still cluttered. The schoolroom/dining room/storage room is, well, a dumping ground! I have not invited anyone for dinner in over a year because my house just isn’t that nice to be in!
Silas’s sickness reminded me that I need to slow down and enjoy my children. The truth is that we aren’t promised tomorrow. Life isn’t about ceaselessly struggling to get “it” all done. It’s about relationships. My children’s’ attitudes and behavior are a direct reflection of my own priorities. To correct this, I don’t need to create more rules or be tougher on the kids and myself. I need to love them more. I need to slow down and enjoy their company more. I need to have meaningful conversations with them. When my older kids were younger, I would take them in the bathroom with me, sit them down on a stool, and have them tell me a story. It might seem like a strange way to spend time with the kids, but it kept mischievous 2 or 4 year old safe and out of trouble and I chose to enjoy their company. Now, those moments (and their silly stories) are a precious memory! Embrace the season in life that you are in. I will be.