I once heard it said that we raise our children up to actually send them out. The intention of raising kids is to someday let them go. All that time and effort and investment, all that love and devotion, all that protecting and hosting and raising them up here in our homes, is all just to one day leave our homes.
We’re sitting here working our butts off raising these little humans to some day leave us.
Some of you are like, “Noooooo!”
And yet some of your are like, “Yayyyyyy!!!”
But all of us are somewhere in between.
I had just finished my several minute speech to my son about how big of a boy he was and how he was going to sleep in his big boy bed ALL. NIGHT. LONG. And that Mommy was not going to be happy if he came into our bed that night. That I wasn’t going to let it happen again. I wasn’t going to be nice about it this time.
Somehow I believe him every time with those words, like he truly understands what I’m trying to tell him at two and a half years old. Nonetheless I leave his room with confidence, like, okay, tonight’s the night he’s going to sleep in his room and he’ll never come crawling to our bed again.
But something happens within minutes of that confident strut out of my son’s room. I go from a confident Mama, excited for the better sleep I’ll hopefully get that night, to a guilty Mama, half hoping he ignores my speech and comes crawling into my arms so I can cuddle the little man he is before it’s too late.
It’s a tug-of-war of emotions that I believe every parent goes through on a daily basis.
And not just parents, but individuals in any phase of life.
I believe it’s one of the signature tug-of-wars in life that account for so much anxiety, depression and restlessness.
It’s a tug-of-war that has our shoelaces tangled, always causing a stumble in our present-day joy.
It’s the tug-of-war called, “Can’t wait… Not yet.”
We live in a can’t wait, not yet world. And as a Mom, I find myself right smack in the middle of it, grasping for what was, while wishing for what will be.
And missing the opportunity to take hold of what is.
I can’t wait until he’s older and can take care of himself a bit more.
Please stay little forever.
I can’t wait until he’s in school and I have more time to myself.
Please stay innocent.
I can’t wait until his bed time tonight.
Please crawl into bed with me.
I can’t wait for my son to grow up and change the world.
Please stay as you are and let me put you in a bubble to never leave me.
It’s easy to chuckle at these back and forth mindsets, but it’s these mindsets that leave out the most important mindset of all, the one God calls us to be in every single day.
It’s the mindset of right here, right now, today.
Today is the only day we have. And I’m a sucker at wasting my today’s.
I’m a sucker for letting my past consume me, and my future indulge me.
I’m a sucker for forgetting to be present now, in my son’s life, loving, cherishing, and accumulating moments in my days I can hold on to forever.
I’m a sucker for hating his tantrums. Who wouldn’t? Tantrums suck. All you want him to do is understand logic and reason with him, to help him understand why what he’s crying about is ridiculous.
You can’t go IN the TV, that’s not possible!! It’s a screen! It’s not real!
Sometimes I lay my head down at night, though, and realize I’d much rather have my son crying over the fact that he can’t go play inside the TV than come home someday as a teenager and cry about the break up he just had.
And then someday when he does come home as a teenager and cry about that break up he just had, I’d much rather have him cry over that than cry over the loss of a spouse, or worse, the loss of a child.
As hard as it might be for us to understand, the present moment is always the best moment. Our past was never as good as it seems now, and our future will soon just be our present in which we’ll be looking towards the future again anyway. We will continue in this loop without ever truly finding contentment in what is.
If we continue to live in a can’t wait, not yet mindset, the joy we are looking for will never be found.
God calls us to live in the moment. He’s very clear in that when Jesus says in Scripture, “Let tomorrow worry about itself.” He’s very clear in that in Isaiah when it says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” He’s very clear in Scripture when he gives enough Manna only for today to the slaves escaping Egypt.
A friend of mine I used to work with always used to say, “These are the good old days.” It was his favorite hashtag when posting photos of his children. It always made me smile because what he was essentially doing was letting us know that this moment, right here, right now with my children — these are the best days. Not my yesterday’s, not my tomorrows. Today.
The cliche, “Those were the good old days” when looking at our pasts, never does our present justice. If our yesterdays were the good old days, then today is just a day; a day that will someday be the good old day we long for.
It’s like Andy Bernard once said on the hit show, “The Office,”
I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days, before you’ve actually left them.
Life is pretty difficult at times, and there are so many days we want to forget, re-do or even wish never happened.
But I’d say most of the time, God willing, we live pretty good days, and we’re missing them, because we can’t wait for what’s ahead, and finding guilt in our not yets, instead of seeing our present for what it truly is: All we have.
Today is all we have. Today is a chance to begin again. Today is a good, new day.
The present is always waiting for us to join it. And God has given us the parameters to do so in the ordinary, extraordinary routine of the hours between two twilight’s.
Twilight Comes Twice. It’s a children’s book about dawn and dusk, a simple reminder that the sun goes down and the sun comes up. Every day. And twice, in between, we get the gift of these golden hours, these pockets of waking up and winding down.
No matter how beautiful and epic and glorious life is right now, the sun goes down.
And no matter how ugly and rejecting and hurtful life is right now, the sun comes up.
I can’t lie and say that when tomorrow comes, I won’t be wishing for bed time only two hours into the day.
I can’t lie and say I’m going to cherish every single moment and find joy in all the nuances of my day.
I can’t lie and say I won’t be wishing for the weekend back or looking forward to Friday again.
After all, I am one who lives in a can’t wait, not yet world.
But I know my heart longs to live in the here and now. And I know yours does too.
I can make myself cry with the guilt I have when I go to bed knowing I just wasted my day with my son. But in the moment, it’s so hard to see this is the only day we have. It’s so hard to see past the tantrums or our tiredness or our laziness or the five loads of laundry. It’s so hard to see past the fact my son will NOT be this little forever and will one day grow up and will one day not even fit in my bed.
It’s hard to see past all of that, because our minds and hearts are not even focusing on the present. We’re not even there. We’re in our pasts or we’re in our futures.
We’re thinking about the days of good sleep when sleep alludes us because of this toddler of ours.
Why won’t he sleep in his own bed?!
Yet the moment you feel his little body spoon up against yours at three in the morning, believe it or not, you’ll smile and spoon him back, breathe in his smell and kiss his forehead.
Your mind isn’t on the past, nor is it seeking the future.
It’s simply being. Loving. Cherishing.
The exact opposite of how you’d think you’d react to losing sleep.
Because, oddly enough, it’s the most joy you have felt all day, during a moment you’d least expect to find it: the present.
Right here, right now, at 3am.
And it is a good old day…