It begins with a perfect evening.
Dinner is over. The kids are asleep. It is 8:00 PM. I can not remember the last time we had a quiet house at 8 PM. So I go to bed.
An hour later, Rosie wakes up. In Rosie fashion, she is wailing loudly and has no explanation. I soothe her and return to my own bed. 20 minutes later she starts up again. It is dark now and she is certain she hears a snake under her bed. I assure her that there are no snakes.
After I leave, Zorro reminds her that she has nothing to worry about. After all, HE is the one who has been stung by a scorpion in his bed, not her. Though this incident occurred months ago, it inspires a fresh round of terror. By the time all the calming is done for the night it is nearly midnight.
Zorro and his dog wake me up early. I decide that since I’m up it is the perfect morning to take a nature hike to the pond. Zorro is excited.
Zorro is fed. Boo-Boo is fed. 2 radios are blaring. Rosie is still sleeping.
Zorro’s chores are done. My chores are done. Boo-Boo is looking ready for her morning nap. Rosie is still sleeping.
Zorro is feeling betrayed now: he does not believe we are actually going to the pond today. Rosie awakens. Give her breakfast. Help her do chores. Boo-Boo is tired: lay her down for a nap. Time for Bible Study.
Bible study is done. Zorro is waiting on the porch. I realize Rosie is missing essential items of clothing.
“5 minutes.” I tell Zorro. ”I just have to get your sister dressed.”
Rosie can’t find the hairbrush: I discover it sitting beside her. Fix hair. Apparently, fixing her hair makes her tired. She can not hold her head up as I brush. Brushing takes a while. Find a skirt. Two are torn. One doesn’t fit. Find matching shoes. Not those, they hurt the cut on her foot. Not those, they don’t fit anymore.
I look at the clock and realize 30 minutes have gone by. I think of Zorro waiting patiently on the porch, just as he has waited patiently all morning. Words start pouring out of me.
“I should just leave you at the house. I should just take Zorro and go.” She looks at me attentively. ”30 minutes. 30 minutes I have spent helping you get ready for the day. You are……”
I pause in my tirade, frozen with horror. The words “Not worth it” are echoing inside my head, shattering my soul with the reality of what I had almost told my daughter. “You are not worth it.”
“Yes Mommy?” She says questioningly, unsure if I am done with the lecture or not.
I refocus. “You are not putting much effort into getting dressed,” I say with outward calm. “We do need to hurry for Zorro’s sake. He’s been waiting a while.”
As I follow the children to the pond, I think about what almost happened. What I almost said. I want to weep, but the children are with me and I do not want to dampen their joy. “You are not worth it.”
I wouldn’t have meant it. What I had planned to say was “It’s not worth it.” A wail of self-pity in protest to the amount of time helping her get dressed had taken out of my morning. But phrasing it differently would not have helped. I have been shown an ugly truth: that I resent how much of “my” time she has taken away from “me.” In that moment, I realize once again how selfish I can be.
I serve an amazing God. One who can wake me up to selfish thoughts, forgive me, and cleanse me. In a world that is constantly saying I need self-fulfillment, I serve a God who asks me to be selfless. I do not have children so that I can feel better about myself. I have children because God entrusted them to my care, just as he entrusts me each day with more time. But neither my time nor my children are wholly my own. I have given all to my King.
To My Children
You are worth it.
You are worth listening to.
You are worth every late night.
You are worth every missed meal and every pregnancy pang.
You are worth every moment of staying home.
You are worth every frustration I go through as I teach you.
You are worth every hour I can’t spend doing the things I planned to do.
You are worth cleaning up after.
You are worth teaching to clean up after yourself.
You are worth the time it takes to fold your laundry.
You are worth the time it takes me to teach you to fold your laundry.
You are worth leaving the computer to see the dragonfly you captured.
You are worth holding while you cry because you realize the dragonfly has died.
You are worth living for.
You are worth dying for. In fact, someone did die for you. His name was Jesus. But you already know this, because you are worth teaching. You are my children, and I am glad.