I was asked last week whether I ever need a break from my kids. There are usually a couple of times a year, now that they’re all older, that I have to myself. David’s parents take the kids for a week in the summer and David ends up taking them for a couple of days at some point during the year. To tell you the truth, I enjoy those times. I really like the feeling of being alone and I sit joyfully in the silence when everyone is gone.
But, I also find rest when they’re here. A break once or twice a year is more than enough for me. I don’t need a regular girls’ night out or a vacation without my kids. It’s not because I’m a saint or some kind of super mom or anything, either. I think there are two reasons for this.
The first is that their best hours, when they’re most awake and alert and fun to be around, are the hours that we spend at home together. It’s not fair, really. Most parents have a couple of hours in the morning while everyone is getting up and getting ready for school and then they get a few hours at the end of the day – when the kids are tired and need to be driven to soccer practice and fed dinner and bathed and then put to bed so they can get up early and be out of the house on time for another day.
Instead, I’m home with mine. The second reason hit me one day last week while I stirred the rhubarb I was stewing. Aidan, Charlie, and Jacob were sitting up at the table nearby and I moved between the rhubarb and the children; giving a stir here, helping with a math question there, talking about when we should go for a swim, getting my coffee ready for the history discussion that Abbie and I had planned. I breathed in the peace of knowing that I was right where I was meant to be – home – living and learning with my children. Sure, there are days when they drive me crazy, but for the most part our days are good.
God called me to disciple my children. He called me to teach them about Him when we rise and when we sit and when we walk along the way. If my children spent the majority of their waking hours – their best hours – in school, the opportunity I have for discipleship would be greatly diminished. I’m thankful for the time I have with them – the unhurried, restful time that we have together because it’s the time that gives me the opportunity to speak God’s truth into their lives.
And I think that God knows how weak I am. He knows that if I only had early mornings and the time between school letting out and bedtime (with the parade of tasks that need to be done after the kids get home from school) that I wouldn’t have the patience to invest in discipleship. I’d be more concerned with getting everyone where they need to go on time, with making sure everyone remembered to bring their music books or their sparring gear, with packing snacks and lunches and permissions lips. I know this because it’s what happens when we’re not at home together. It’s what happens on Sunday mornings when we try to get out the door for church on time. It’s what happens at the end of our day at home together when we have to get ready to leave for Taekwon-do and piano and whatever else we need to do. I’m not a patient parent during those times, I’m not a particularly good parent during those times and I’m usually not marvelling at how amazing it is to watch God at work in the lives of my children (although sometimes I’m praying for just a little more patience to get me through the rest of the day).
I am blessed. Each and every day that I spend with my children is a gift from God. Knowing that I’m carrying out God’s purpose for my life, as I invest in the lives of my children, sustains me and gives me the kind of rest that time away from my family can never offer.