936Pennies Motherhood Parenting

I Dont Want To Look Back And Wonder How We Got There

September 14, 2016

counting6

I am not sure how I didn’t notice until then. Why I didn’t see it until that very inconvenient moment when we’re rushing to get all three kids fed and dressed and out the door in time for church. But I did see it, and it stopped me dead in my hustle-bustle tracks.

The tick of the clock ceased to remind me that church would be starting soon, and we best be on our way. Instead, I took in the sight of our oldest boy as he bound through the living room. I studied his shoulders in that button-up. When had they turned from such pre-school round to little boy square?

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His legs looked impossibly long in those dark denim jeans. And as he ran and jumped throughout the living room, his muscles flexed beneath his Sunday’s Best to reveal a budding strength. A young man strength. I bent down and rested a knee on the carpet, and pulled him near. “Just stay,” I told him. “I just want to hold you for a minute.” He leaned back just enough to catch my eyes with his, and then broke into a big grin.

That night I would dream that he was taller than me, and I know some day this will become a realty. My prayer is, that when that day comes, I won’t be asking myself how it happened.

I pray that I’ll know exactly how we got to that point, because I was fully present every step that it takes to get from here to there.

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I did some calculating this week. I unscrewed the tops of those jars that sit on a shelf in our living room, the ones that remind us that time will not stop, so we best learn how to slow it down. I held the copper coins in my hands, counted two by twos. And this is what I found.

Our youngest boy, the one who came on his own timetable through a whirlwind of labor weeks before we expected him. The one born so small I could hold him in one hand. The one who slept swaddled up soundly underneath a sunny window until his skin pinked up. The one who would quickly prove that his big voice and even bigger heart could compensate for his little size. We have spent 74 weeks getting to know him.

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And then our middle guy. The one born with a deep, raspy voice and a contagious giggle. The one who asks to sit and drink a cup of tea with me, and requests to wear a button-up shirt on the most ordinary of outings. The one who forces me to stop and slow our day, because he needs to dance in my arms. We’ve had 173 weeks with this one.

counting-ellis

And then the one who made me a Mama. The one who gave me a crash course in what it means to lose all of myself; to give and give and give some more. And then to receive; to take in all the love and whispers and smiles and moments of grand beauty.

The one whose focus is steadfast and determination is unshaken. The one who gathers paper and markers to make a card for friends when he hears that they are sick. The one who asks the deep questions, and doesn’t settle for shallow answers—and teaches me to do the same. We’ve had 269 weeks with this boy.

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This morning I sat in a room of women. Twelve strangers who are all walking this journey of penny spending; this voyage of time investing. We were gathered for a new Bible study, and took turns sharing our names and the ages of our children. Several talked as they nursed newborn babes. “I have three boys,” I began, “Ages 5, 3, and 1.” One woman sitting the next couch over had three children the same ages.

And I just wonder, what would happen if I had said instead, “My three boys are 74 weeks old, 173 weeks old, and 269 weeks old.” Surely there would have been a few odd glances. It seems as though after the first few months, we transition from counting weeks, to counting months, and then years. But what if we kept tracking these weeks? And what if I had said instead, “I have 862 weeks left with my youngest boy. With my second born, I have 763 weeks remaining. And, well, with my firstborn, I have only 667 weeks left.”

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It’s the same reason some parents say that they can’t do it—this time counting. It’s why for a long time, I didn’t think I could do it either. Sometimes we don’t want this stark reminder. But if we’re not keeping track, I fear we’ll lose track.

I fear we’ll stop noticing the details, and that we might just miss the process of it all. I’m afraid that we’ll get to that last week, when we’re sitting on a bedside helping them pack for college, or watching them drive away to their next adventure, and we’ll wonder how we got there.

I don’t want to wonder how we got there. I want to be able to look back and see a continuous string of moments marked by my full presence, my full attention, my full appreciation. I want to harness the time and engrave it with all of me noticing all of them.

And so I keep counting.

  • Innana Canon September 14, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    This was so beautifully written. Honestly brought tears to my eyes. As a Mother of a 15-month old boy, I wish I could keep him this small forever. I know exactly what you mean by giving your full attention. It’s like, I don’t want to miss a moment!! I find myself putting my phone and laptop down to spend more time with him. I cherish him especially at this age and want to experience every moment because I know that it will not last.

    Your boys are so handsome. Thanks for sharing this lovely post!

    • Eryn Lynum September 14, 2016 at 8:25 pm

      Thank you so much Innana! My youngest boy is 15 months also! What a sweet, sweet age, when they’re just beginning to discover their personality. I commend you on giving your full attention to these moments now, and cherishing this beautiful season of motherhood!

  • jehava September 15, 2016 at 8:16 am

    I really love this so much! I have 3 boys: 11,8 and 2 and it makes me sad how little time I have left with the oldest and, I realize with the 2 year old how fast time goes! I’m trying to cherish every moment. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Dad September 15, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Excellent, wonderful post. But now that my jar is empty, and has been for a long time, and I remember that day each of you packed and drove off on your own adventures, the pennies all now invested, I can attest that the new ‘adult’ relationships we have are just as rich and blessed as the ‘kid’ years. 🙂

    • Eryn Lynum September 15, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      Thank you 😀 And I agree 🙂 I pray we’ll have strong relationships with our boys when all our own pennies are spent. And am thankful for an example of what that looks like.

  • Jasmine Hewitt September 15, 2016 at 11:58 am

    I love this post. My son is only 14 months, so our jar has only begun. But I’m going to count for a very long time

  • Sane Mama September 15, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Thank you for the reminder to be present for these moments. This is something I struggle with every day.

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