According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the average American family has 1.86 children. Perhaps you, like me, have never figured out how one manages to have .86 of a child. All I know is that we had whole children and a lot of them.
It was not in the original life plan to have a very large family. If I had known on my wedding day that I would have twelve children I might have run screaming in the other direction. Fortunately we grow into our destiny, and the children were born one at a time.
The first four children were born in less than four years. We had a 3-year-old, a 2-year-old, a 16-month-old and a newborn. It was hard when they were all little but it’s not hard now that they are 30, 29, 28 and 27.
Little children are one of those tests of character that do not go away when you are tired or stressed. Sometimes I think that God gives us children so that we ourselves will finally grow up.
There can be difficult times in raising children, when it seems that a certain stage will last forever and we’ll never get a full night’s sleep again. We can get short-sighted and begin to long for our own convenience and “rights.” As an older mother can I share a bit of perspective?
In her wonderful book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking, Edith Schaeffer writes, “You cannot expect to have a close relationship with a teenager who, after all, is still the same person as the two-year-old you stuck crying into bed, the three-year-old you spanked and shoved aside, the four-year-old you wouldn’t listen to, the five-year-old you never shared beauty with, the six-year-old you found boring, or you ‘trained’ never to butt in, but never gave time to make a cozy and beautiful background out of which you could talk to him or her.”
And in What is a Family? Mrs. Schaeffer warns, “Neglected mothers and grandmothers may perhaps have been preparing for their own neglect by teaching over and over again that people’s sensitive feelings, and people’s need of response is never as important as clean houses, schedules, or rules and regulations.”
I have always found it helpful to live daily life with a frequent reminder of “what will I wish I had done?” It’s a good question to ask yourself, along with “If I found out I had a week to live, how would I spend my time?” If that was a reality, putting off a toddler with a saggy diaper while we are on Facebook would probably not be among the choices. Nor would we refuse to read a book to our young children or scream at our five-year-old. Just a thought and perspective for you to consider.
Whether you have 1.86 children or ten, make sure that you are loving them and living with them in ways that you will not regret in the future. If you have regrets (as all parents do), God is in the business of restoration and repair. Look forward to where you will be someday, and then back up to where you are now. Living backwards can help you end up where you want to be.
What helps you gain perspective on living with the end in mind? Please leave a comment…