He was cleaning out his room the other day and called me over to remove a big box of toys.
“I’m just too big for them now, Mom,” he said, shrugging his 8 year-old shoulders. “It’s just not fun anymore.”
As I stared down at the box, memories of childhood play flooded my mind; for a brief season in time, those small figurines had held the imagination of my small boy for hours on end. They had jumped off skyscrapers, battled “bad guys”, and stood victorious time and time again.
But those days were over. My boy was growing up, and it was time to make room for new adventures and toys.
I squeezed him for a bit, noticing how tall he had grown in just a short time. As a homeschooling mom, I had shared so much of that time with him, and yet, it didn’t seem like enough, not enough for all of the wonder of childhood I had grown to love.
I watched his younger sisters that day, yearning to capture this time that I knew would slip right through my fingers all too soon. This precious fleeting time that would give me a glimpse of their innocence and childhood joys before it zapped them away and sent them off to new frontiers.
The joy of bubbles, the look of wonder when discovering a new idea. That pensive way they stare at me, spoons midair, as we take another book adventure at the breakfast table.
It’s the way she dances, that look of concentration on her face the moment before her joyous smile spreads as she lands her pirouette. The squeals of happiness when a fluttering butterfly lands right in her hands. And the shouts of excitement as his spear and arrow turn out just right.
They are such fleeting moments, such beautiful moments that I know will never come again, not like today, not like the “little” years.
They are like tiny snowflakes, floating all around me, each one unique, each one different. I reach out to hold them, to capture them, to keep them in my memory, but few ever make it. They dissolve quickly before the next one falls, disappearing somewhere deep into my heart.
I know I’ll never see them again, and so I reach out, using photography, words, whatever I can find to capture just a little bit more for me, for the future me, who will long to see their smiling faces, their chubby cheeks, just as they look today; for the me who will long to hear their sweet voices just one more time, the way they sound right now, in this moment.
Yes, these years are tough. These little years are filled with constant needs that I must meet, constant training, constant opportunities for growth and sanctification. These little years sometimes overwhelm the days, leaving little room for me in the midst of the blizzard.
But still, I find them magical, transcending the mundane into something special, mystifying, amazing. How I long to experience more with them, camping, nature walks, all of it–to do it all now before that look of wonder fades, before that childish delight subsides.
I have so much love for these little children, these sweet little souls, who have opened my eyes to the beauty and richness of God’s creation. I love them for the treasures that they are and the miracles they reveal to me each and every day.
Their laughter, their smiles, the way they dance in the rain or run in, shouting, “Mom, you’ve got to see this!” I love every part of who they are.
And I know that as they grow, as the small toys march out of their lives, one by one, my love for them will also grow. I know that there will come a time when our conversations will deepen and their understanding of the world will change.
There will be a time when the experiences of life will push them down, and they will be called to live out the truth we talk about today. I know that there will be real-life adventures to explore and new opportunities for them to run and fly that will be just as great or far greater.
But for now, as she takes my hand in hers and toddles toward the slide; today, as she beams with pride as she shows me her drawing and craft; this day, as he calls me to watch him play on the floor with his Legos, I will soak it all in.
I will look up as each snowflake gently lands on my face.
And I will thank God for it all, every single part of it . . . especially those little toy figurines that find their way unto my path.
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord! -Psalm 127:3