Lots of squeals and giggles - punctuated by temper tantrums and arguments.
"Stay on the bench until you can tell me what you did wrong," I heard an extremely calm mother say to her little girl.
"I didn't DO anything wrong!" came the child's indignant reply.
The mother held her ground and left the child to think on the bench.
I sat down on an adjacent bench. - My 13-year-old was clearly one of the oldest "children" there. We had come for lunch and to simply spend time with friends. This is one of the excellent benefits of homeschool - the joy of spending time with children of ALL ages.
(And to be honest, my 13 year still loves to run around the park. We have to let them be little.)
I caught the patient mom's eye and told her she was doing a good job... her child's persistence and strong will WILL most certainly become an asset, I tell her. (I'm seeing it now in my own 16-year-old. ) We exchanged a few words and she went back to watching her other three children, one of them an infant.
This mom had her hands full and was doing such a beautiful job.
I had a few minutes to myself before a friend of mine arrived with her children. I looked around the crowded park, thinking how 13 years earlier I used to come to this same park with my infant and very active three-year-old in tow.
My, how times change.
It seems that we can always see more clearly in hindsight. Some days I wish I had a do-over with my children, and other days I have great peace knowing God ordained our days as He saw fit.
To the mom at the park - if you would have had time for a leisurely cup of coffee and a chat, I would have shared these thoughts with you.
Cherish This Time
Right now you don't even have time to think about cherishing this time - but one day you will be so thankful you were present with your children. You will be thankful you sacrificed a "career" to stay at home with them. Your family will benefit in untold ways from you putting their needs ahead of your own.
Those sticky kisses, bear hugs, endless stories - and yes, even the temper tantrums - will be gone in the blink of an eye.
Cherish this time.
Stand Your Ground
Parenting isn't for wimps. It's not always easy to stick to your guns and make your persistent, screaming child stay on that bench because she misbehaved.
Consistency is one of the biggest gifts you can give your children.
Setting limits will make everyone's life more peaceful and productive in the long run.
Too many parents are trying to please their children instead of train their children.
It was wonderful to watch you in action at the park.
Play WITH Them
Sometimes we get so caught up taking care of our children that we forget to enjoy them.
Be sure to let your hair down and play with your children. (I engaged in a game of chase with some young friends and was ASTOUNDED that I went down the slide much slower than I used to!)
Blow bubbles. Jump rope. Run in the sprinkler. Play soccer.
It's good for YOUR soul, too.
However... Give Them Time to Play Alone
Another gift you can give your children is the ability to entertain themselves.
Give them plenty of time and space to use their imaginations - to be bored.
Please don't fill their days with endless activities. Just because everyone puts their child on a soccer team at age 4 doesn't mean it's best for YOUR children. There are many good activities out there - just be aware that your children only deserve the BEST.
Don't feel the need to keep up with all of the other moms at the park. This will be tough, but teaching your children not to follow the crowd is perhaps the greatest lesson of all.`
Prepare a Feast of Beautiful Things
Less is more. Surround your children with things of beauty.
Fine art, classical music, beautiful literature, walks in nature - you have such an opportunity to fix a beautiful table of goodness for your children. How will they know how to create beauty if they have never SEEN it?
Please don't give them a tablet or phone when you need a break.
Garbage in, garbage out, remember?
Motherhood is a Noble Calling
Please don't EVER forget this.
Our world tells us it is not important for a mother to invest in her children full-time.
We are told we don't know enough about our own children to educate them. We surely need "experts" to help us with that.
You know your children better than anyone else. YOU are their best advocate. God has called YOU to be a mother to your children, and no one else is more well equipped for the job.
There will be days when you don't feel this is true. This is why you need to surround yourself with like-minded moms. Stay in God's word. Encourage others.
So mom, I hope you know you are valued. I hope you know you are doing something of eternal significance.