Last week was my firstborn daughter’s 11th birthday. To celebrate, my husband dug out video footage of her first birthday party, a decade gone.
We laughed to watch her face light up at that first sweet taste of cake, giggled to see glimpses of their oldest cousin at a much shorter age eight—he’s now a senior in high school—and reminisced over my baby girl’s strange method of scooting her legs from side to side in order to travel the house. She never did learn to crawl before she walked.
And then of course little sister wanted to see videos of her own baby days, so my husband switched the tapes and there they were, my precious gifts from God, one a wrinkly newborn and the other just barely three years old, with wisps of red bangs and a high and lilting little girl voice—that voice.
I didn’t remember her voice.
I thought I knew my kids, that I had all of their days stored up in my heart, but I’m telling you it shocked me as we watched the old videos to discover how much I had forgotten, how many of their days gone by I no longer recognize, as if they had never even existed. And if they don’t exist in a momma’s memory then who in the world are these little people, these younger, smaller versions of them that I will never get back?
My seven-year-old snuggled her nose into my neck and confessed. “Mommy, everybody is happy to watch the videos, but for some reason they make me sad. I have big emotions.”
Oh sweet love, I get it. Me too, me too.
When my husband and I settled under the covers that night, I asked him the question that’s been haunting me ever since.
Did I miss it?
The last ten years of birthdays, monkey bars, loose teeth and bedtime stories. Learning to read and sing and ride bikes, growing into the next shoe size and the next grade at school. Did I miss all the real moments in the rush of doing and scolding and worrying? With my nose in a computer, my head in the distractions du jour, and my heart just wishing for the troubles of today to pass yet all the while forgetting to mark the blessings—neglecting to realize that they will pass, too.
I know I love my kids. I know I try to raise them with intention. I know I am teaching them to follow Christ.
But did I miss the little things? Because those little things add up to a childhood. And I want to capture them, invest in them, and remember them well.
In another ten years my firstborn will be 21, a true adult. She’ll be graduating from college, establishing her path, maybe even getting married, heaven help my momma’s heart. And if the next ten years fly by as fast as the last ten, then I’d better stop now and decide how I’m going to spend them.
On my knees.
Lord, give me your perspective. Help me to see my children the way you see them. Help me to delight in them the way you delight in them. Convict me to let go of what doesn’t matter, so I can be present within what does.
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
That’s my prayer for you, too, mom friends. Of all the “jobs” we think we have as parents, I’m realizing the most important one is to show up. God will orchestrate the rest. And He alone has the ability and the mercy and the grace to make our next ten years even better than the last.
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