There’s absolutely, positively no fooling them–they know.
I was a frazzled mama of three, my oldest still four when the youngest was born.
It was all I could do to manage house, home and a part-time ministry position, feeding one from my body and two from the table…or, the car seat. Happy Meals aren’t just about the children; sometimes they’re sanity’s tether.
Mamas are master jugglers. If we aren’t interested in selling our young ones to the circus on their wildest of days, we might be tempted to join it ourselves. I’m certain the skill set transfers, and center ring at the circus is darn near a Calgon bath.
Children sense when we’re distracted. They know when we aren’t really listening.
Tiny hands grasping your cheeks and turning your face toward theirs is demand for full attention.
“Listen, Mama,” they say without a spoken word. Chubby toddler fingers have very loud voices.
Sometimes I wish I had the freedom of a child–
The inhibition to demand full attention…
The liberty to let you know it hurts me when you’re half engaged in our conversation and more interested in what’s streaming on your phone.
The tenderness to ask you to enjoy our time together without a camera chronicling every moment.
You see, I’m not pointing fingers at you right now. I’m looking in the mirror…
Oh, lovies–I’m a blogger with an iPhone and an Instagram account! I have almost 3,000 pictures on my phone (and on my old one I had even more). I love to capture memories in photographs because it helps me remember.
So, please….please, hear my heart? I am not condemning or criticizing anyone! Rather, I’m challenging myself and whoever would like to join me with a simple philosophy for the holidays–Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year:
Love fully. Love well.
Two of my children are now in college and my baby is a junior in high school. Though I can barely stand thinking about it, my reality is that it is rare for all five of us to be together – to share a meal or sleep under the same roof – powerful motive to engage them without distractions when I have opportunity.
Once you realize you have 18 Thanksgivings and 18 Christmases with your children living under your roof and authority, you realize how quickly time flies. Yes, they’ll always be your babies, but I’m learning once they have a foot out the door, it’s never the same. That’s not a bad thing, mind you; it’s the natural order of life. But to a mama, it sure can be a hard thing.
I had opportunity to hear Laura Parker (co-founder of The Exodus Road) speak recently. Though it wasn’t the main point of her session, the most poignant takeaway for me was a challenge to do well the next thing in front of you. In context, she was sharing the story of a woman who saw this as opportunity to love well the person she was with. Putting myself in those shoes, it means regardless of the circumstances or the relationship I have with the person in front of me, I can love them well by giving them my full attention; not thinking ahead to what I’ll say next, not looking around to who else I might want to talk to, not checking my phone.
We love strangers, friends and family the same way: by being fully present when we’re together.
(And aren’t strangers just friends waiting to be discovered?)
There is so much to do in preparation for holiday gatherings, I’m living that reality as I prepare to host our family gathering on Thursday. To-Do Lists are a mile long with shopping and cleaning and getting home ready for family and friends (or getting your little people ready to visit others). There are just as many ways to become distracted as there are recipes for turkey and dressing.
But I’m more convinced than ever that the most important To-Do is simply to love well the people right in front of me.
That is the Gospel fleshed out in my life.
By Thursday morning I hope the cleaning’s done; but if it’s not, it will still be enough.
By Thursday afternoon, the table will be set, the food will be prepared, and whatever got done will be more than enough.
I’ll likely take a few pictures to help me with that memory loss thing, but my greatest hope is that I’ll love my people well – that they’ll be affirmed, esteemed, encouraged and fully attended.
My hope is that as we feast on good food and share the company of those with whom we share blood, we’ll be full to the overflow with Thanksgiving because we’ve valued one another in a way that honors God and each other.
How can we make this holiday season memorable, friends? I wouldn’t suggest following my son’s advice(!), but I sure would love to hear your suggestions for making memories.