At breakfast the other day with a friend, we heard a fussy baby began to wail and cry. It barely registered at first, and certainly didn’t annoy us. But I did say, “I’m so glad those particular days are behind me!” And it’s true. Although I love being a mother, I certainly do not miss those long, long days when my children were very young, and their demands were so great. We chuckled as we both agreed that season of parenting is best suited to those much younger. I found myself quietly saying a prayer for the mother. It’s not an easy task to be a mom.
My friend’s youngest will be leaving for college in a few weeks and then we will both officially be empty nesters. She shared how she had woken up a few days ago to see her child’s shoes on her bedroom floor facing her bed. Her daughter had come into her room for a late night chat as she often did, flopped herself on the bed, and kicked off her shoes. “I’ll miss that,” she said.
It reminded me of a long ago time, pulling into my garage on a hot and humid afternoon. As it often does during Florida summers, it was raining, and I was hurrying to get the groceries into the house and put away. In my attempt to make as few trips as possible, I carried three large paper grocery bags when suddenly my foot struck something on the floor and I tripped, dropping everything in my arms as I fell to my hands and knees. One of my kids had left their tennis shoes just inside the door again, leaving me with bruised knees, broken eggs, and crumbled cookies. How many times had I told him not to leave his shoes in the middle of the floor where someone could trip over them?
The emotions of that day have long faded and the passage of time has brought a new perspective. I realize now that it’s not whether the shoes are constantly underfoot, or are pointed toward our bed. It’s the fact that we have these shoes that aren’t ours, that are in our house, and they won’t always be. Shoes are made for walking. These shoes will one day be facing in a new direction, ready to walk a new path. If we are lucky, their shoes will go back and forth to our house many times. Change is always a difficult process, but it is a regular part of life and so we strive to adjust as it happens. I’ve come to believe that the path of parenting is a wonderful analogy for the Christian life in general. The challenges of loving and living alongside another, being in relationship and seeking to maintain that relationship as you walk through each day, learning when to speak and when to stay silent, practicing humility, patience, self-control – these are the hallmarks of good parenting, and they can find their full expression as we depend on Christ for wisdom and strength.
So Moms, carry this hope in your heart: as we walk each day with Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, we look forward with anticipation to that great Day when we will be with Him face to face. Our children must learn to walk this same path, enjoying the same fellowship and communion with God that we know, and learning the dependence on Him that can only come from separation from us. Take heart! Your job is far from over! They will need you as they begin to navigate this path of adult life for themselves. There is greater joy coming!
And in the meantime, you can go to bed early and have no fear of tripping over shoes. Be thankful for the gifts God has given, even as you look forward to the good that is sure to come!