We’ve all said it.
The mom of the toddler says it to the mama rocking a newborn in the nursery.
The grandma says it to the mom wrestling a posse of kids and a grocery cart through the store aisles.
Can you guess? Can you guess the irritatingly true little phrase we all say?
“Treasure these little years. They go by so fast.”
It seems whenever I am divvying up chicken nuggets to my hangry little people at Wendy’s, inevitably a bystander will walk over with a big smile and remind me in this chaotic moment to “Treasure these little years. They go by so fast.”
I certainly cannot deny the wisdom of her words. I wonderingly gaze upon my sweet girl and strain to remember her infancy. Thank goodness for the 900 photos I took! Yet I’m not always appreciative of the unsought advice. I politely chuckle and agree even as I consider the sleepless nights and exhausting days: soiled diapers, spilled drinks, lost pacifiers, perpetual interruption, unfounded tears, sibling fights, decision fatigue, unrelenting dishes, and heaped laundry. Yes, these little years, what a treasure!
Despite my private cynicism, I know in time I’ll deeply miss this craziness. In the future, I’ll be the knowing bystander that reminds a young mama to “treasure these little years.” But, for now, the bodily fluids and tantrums keep me tethered to reality. But time will slowly weed out these hard moments in order to more easily reminisce the good moments. I’m thankful. Already I struggle to remember the hardship bound up in the twins’ first year of life, but I remember the absolute relief and joy when we took JJ home from the NICU on Mother’s Day. My point? It’s okay if these little years don’t feel like a treasure; they will in time. But I do think treasure abounds for today. A different more important treasure hidden among the daily rough.
The treasure of inadequacy. I feel woefully inadequate as a mama. I cannot heal my children’s illnesses. I cannot summon energy or patience within myself. I cannot protect my little ones from sin or its effects. I cannot convict my children’s hearts to salvation. But my Father can: He can do all these things and far more, for nothing, absolutely nothing, is too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:17). Today’s inadequacy drives me to my Father’s powerful, merciful arms. I often find myself crying “I can’t,” and with myself out of the way, I more easily embrace the One who can.
The treasure of exposure. It’s amazing how quickly my kids drum up my frustration not because they are necessarily doing anything wrong but because their behavior irks me. My daughter’s constant inquires. My son’s struggle to find anything on his own. My twins’ excessive reactions and clinginess. The resentment that looms if a child wakes up early from nap. These encounters readily expose the selfishness teeming in my heart. The unlovely exposure, sanctifying treasure, stirs my heart to repentance and remembrance of my Savior who calls me to deny myself, pick up my cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23).
The treasure of fellowship. Before the shocking ultrasound showcasing twins, I felt pretty confident about adding a third child to our family. I imagined outings in which I would wear the baby and hold the two toddlers’ hands. The twins effectively wrecked the plan and my pride. Pre-twins, I almost never accepted help, but post-twins I couldn’t afford to decline it. If someone asked if they could come visit, I’d pull out my calendar and ask when. God humbled me and amply provided for our physical, emotional and spiritual needs through the generosity of His people. Their encouragement and accountability continue to be a present treasure in the rough.
Our children will grow and grow fast. Rather than lament the passing “little years,” we can intentionally enjoy each new phase our children enter while helping them grow in the maturity of the Lord. We do well to remember that our relationship with the Lord is more lasting and vital than any relationship on this earth eclipsing even the relationships with our children. If we prize Him above all else, we will naturally love our children well and look back on these little years with gratitude.