“I want so badly to enjoy all of this right now, while they’re young. But I am definitely looking forward to that time!” I told the couple from our church.
I stood over their table at the coffee shop, my bag heavy with laptop and notebooks slung over my shoulder. I was on my way out when I ran into them. They were on a planning date, their bigger kids back home by themselves.
I was heading home after a morning of work to go take care of my three children, ages six and under, so my husband could get to his own work. Part of me ached for that time that I know lies years ahead, when we can leave our children at home and go enjoy a morning out together. Goodness—even a walk around the block just the two of us.
I have heard that these years of raising little ones who still cannot fix their own breakfast or load the dishwasher are a blur; that we’ll look back one day and not see the details. Too much busy and assisting and guiding and protecting and constant supervision will squeeze everything out of us for this span of years before we can resurface and breathe.
It will be a blur. Many days it feels that way already.
Only a day after that conversation in the coffee shop we found ourselves hiking a local trail with a group of friends—four families out enjoying the Colorado January sunshine. We made it a quarter of the hike before our two-year-old began lagging behind. He lifted his arms up to me to be carried. I glanced down at my very pregnant belly and told him No. He turned to Daddy. Daddy encouraged him to keep walking. The four-year-old gave up somewhere around midway. We thanked our friends for the hike and we turned around, heading back down the mountain, while friends and their bigger kids forged ahead to the top.
I long for that mountain top. For that day when my husband and I can linger behind holding hands and sharing actual conversation while the kids run eagerly ahead.
But then as we drew near back to the trailhead, my six-year-old came to my side and slipped his hand in mine. And it hit me with such force that my heart nearly caved under the importance of this moment. These are the hand-holding days.
Those big kids up near the top of that mountain, they’re not pausing much these days to hold mom’s hand. But this still-little boy, there is time now with him by my side.
And that breaks right through the blur.
That stops time itself, crystalizing this moment into all of eternity in my heart.
We did not make it to the mountaintop that day. One day we will, and I will pull my boy close as he smiles, embarrassed, and pulls away to go join his friends. I sense that day approaching, little pieces of our life leaking over the edges and into that next season. He wanted to keep going today, and he would have. I saw the disappointment painted across his face when his Daddy told him it was time to turn around. That evening when I would ask him what his favorite part of the day was, he would answer, “Running ahead with the big kids.”
He has his eyes set on that mountaintop, too. I know my hand-holding days are numbered. And so today I choose to feel fully the warmth of his hand in mine, to watch how he maneuvers the rocks with growing agility, and to welcome his embrace as he checks in to show me his latest stick find, or to offer a hug. I take it all in and bury it deep inside of me for the day when these moments will be harder to come by.
Today I am choosing to be ok with slowing down to match their pace. It’s a friendlier pace than this world has to offer, anyways.
And I don’t want to be in a rush.