“I CAN’T BELIEVE HE’S FIVE MINUTES OLD!!!! TIME, SLOW DOWN.”
I used to make fun of these moms; now I’m one of them. Time floored it on October 1, 2015, and there’s an actual pain in my chest from the g-force of having an almost-9-month-old. Life is slipping through my fingers faster than water drains from his splashing bath, and some days I can hardly cope.
Problem is, I’m not baby book mom. Or hand-print-crafts-every-month mom. And in the quiet of the sleepy minutes between his last feeding and bedtime reading, my heart squeezes small in fear.
What if I’m not commemorating enough?
What if I can’t conjure up this sweetness in years to come because I haven’t recorded every detail or thoroughly memorized his profile?
What if I’m doing all of this wrong and I’ll regret not immortalizing his infancy with crafts and collages and carefully written details?
Am I the only one?
Because I want to do right by my son, but if doing right by him means doing all the things the internet suggests I could do, then gosh am I ruining his life already.
I hold him tighter, thinking that if I can squeeze him just a little more I’ll make it last, and just before the tears come the God of encouragement whispers Truth into my troubled, mother heart.
Just thank Me, Kate.
The invitation breaks relief on fear and failure.
Joy never found in clutching tight but in releasing thanks. If I remember nothing else about this season of his life, may I remember deep and daily gratitude to the God who would give such good gifts.
Because the point of my motherhood is not the immortalizing of his childhood. I’m not his mom so that someone records his teething timeline and documents his hair length for every week of his life. I am his mother precisely because he will outgrow these baby seasons and become a man who brings life and light into the world.
Of course it crushes my soul to serve the god of perfect, perpetual childhood-preserving motherhood.
Given long enough, this will crush his soul too.
The goal of my motherhood is not to record his boyhood so much as it is to raise him up into manhood.
What he needs is a mom less concerned with remembering exactly which day he crawled or laughed and far more concerned with the shape of his soul day by day, year by year. If his baby book wins awards, lands displayed all over the internet, but I’ve put no thought, no prayer, no focus on the man he’ll be at 20, on his wedding day, as a first-time father, in the Kingdom of God — have we really won?
So I crawl into bed humming the prayer of Job, singing it over the times of James’ life:
“You give and take away; blessed be Your name.”
Because this is the truth about childhood and all of life. Each day is a gift given at sunrise and taken at twilight, and if He so chooses, given anew once more. And the most and hardest thing that He wants is to be enjoyed to the max while the sun is shining and when the night has come.
This is the best thing I can give my son.
A mother more concerned with enjoying Jesus through her child and everything else the day brings than one fastidiously recording his details and demanding in futility that infancy last forever.
A mother rejoicing in the present rather than pining for the past or lamenting the fast-approaching future.
A mother delighted more in the mission of raising up a man than the minutiae of memorializing his boyhood.
When the record-keeping, craft-making, Pinterest-parenting leads to greater enjoyment of Jesus through James, I’ll be there with bells on.
But only then.
And until then, I’ll be here, eyes wide open, heart near bursting, with infinite, simple thanks all day long, and eyes on the God who has plans for this tiny man-child so far beyond his dental records. The sweetness of the little days becomes a glorious extra to carrying him, Lord willing, all the way to manhood.
The ache of his evaporating baby year mushrooms miraculously into freedom at the privilege of raising this son.