These Happy Golden Years*
I have been thinking a lot about how saying thank you is the opposite of self-pity. It’s the opposite of self-anything. Self-focus. My fears, my doubts, my anxiety …. my anything.
I have a friend who has five (almost) grown kids – she has told me several times that the ages our kids are at now are such special ones. These are the years where everything is possibility, she’s said, where everything is an option and full of hope.
I am seeing what she means. My kids are old enough to reason and young enough to be un-self-conscious. The first six years, if I look back, were all about teaching survival skills. (To my self, as much as to them!) How to stay alive, eat, drink, sleep and exist safely.
Around six and seven years old I really loved the joy of seeing my kids’ uniqueness unfold. I got to celebrate their differences, their own perspectives and the surprises that came out in how they see the world through their own eyes. I loved that and I still do.
And now, now it’s all about relationship.
I am consciously, intentionally storing away for (what could be) the turbulence of individuating ahead. I am laying a foundation every day of relationship. I’d be foolish to think it may not get tricky with hormones and the heavy-lifting that growing up will ask of them. But I have these years and I am daily helping them build relationship with themselves, with family, with friends, with their own faith… with the way their minds and bodies work and how to relate to that.
Most of how I do this is with time. It’s focus, it’s eye contact and answering impossible questions with attention, it’s listening, it’s reading, it’s touch, it’s doing everything we can together – it’s investing, investing, investing. It’s golden moments that flitter by so fast that sometimes even the legitimate robs the essential.
In the past this investment has often come from fear. From a sense of scarcity or panic of the unknown (or even precedent) – from a place of focus on me and my worries and my fears. But slowly I am learning to make the investment from a surplus of joy instead. From a place of gratitude.
As they practice growing up, I am practicing my place of thanks. Thanks not built on guarantees but on God.
These last two years have been a scary season for me as a mother. To see all of our needs as a family met through unusual means has stretched me and continues to stretch me – sometimes to a breaking point. I am daily learning to see the gifts in our lives as the opposite of seeing lack, and instead choosing to see plenty. To see the beauty of who I worship show Himself in the abundance of goodness and kindness and simple routines of our days.
These are some golden moments from this week. They aren’t reflections of perfection or even what I always think we need. But these are the ones I clicked on a camera button for, because this was my way of saying: I see this gift, God, and I thank you.