I am writing this blog while on vacation in sunny Southern California with my family. We are enjoying about ten days of relaxation together as we get away from “real life” and spend some time playing together. Yesterday, we enjoyed a day together at Legoland, riding the rides and viewing the amazing Lego creations located throughout the park. While partaking in one of my favorite hobbies, people-watching, I was saddened to see how few people seemed to be enjoying themselves. I watched as harried mothers spoke sharply and unkindly to whining children. I saw disengaged fathers talking on Blackberries and ignoring repeated questions from their frustrated children, who got louder with each repetition of their unanswered question. I saw children begging for their parents to buy them something, and parents giving in just to make the demands cease. I saw brothers and sisters treating each other rudely, pushing and shoving and calling each other ugly names. Here we were, in a magical place, and people were so intent on hitting the next ride or buying the next toy that they weren’t even having any fun.
In contrast, we were having a great time. The weather was beautiful, sunny and warm. The park was uncrowded, since it was a school day (one of the benefits of homeschooling—you can vacation when nobody else does!). Our kids were excited to return to a place they had been previously and enjoyed a great deal. We weren’t on a schedule, and didn’t have any deadlines. My husband was NOT talking on his Blackberry and we felt free from all outside worries and responsibilities. The kids were having fun together, planning which attractions to ride, and which to skip. We felt unhurried and relaxed, just enjoying a day together as a family. At one point, as we were watching the kids ride something together, Alan turned to me and said, “You know, the next time Molly (our oldest) comes here, it could be with her own children.” The thought brought a pain to my heart as I realized how few family vacations we really have left with all five of us. It made me all the more determined to make the most of this trip, and to treasure these moments in my heart’s memory.
Life is so busy, and moves so fast. Sometimes we seem to forget that we really do only have our children for a season, not forever. In the midst of diapers and late-night feedings, it can seem endless. In the whirl of activities when they are older, it seems to slip through our fingertips like a wisp of smoke, gone before we can grasp it. I think Satan’s greatest tool to ruin us as parents is busyness. He distracts us with so much activity (even good ones) that we don’t realize how much time is slipping away from us. All of those important things we need to teach our children, or say to our children, or show our children are forgotten in the daily rush to get to the next soccer game. If he can just keep us busy enough so that we don’t focus on what really matters, he will win our children. And we make it so easy for him…
I challenge you today to look at your family life. When was the last time you just had some fun with your kids? When was the last time you gave your child your full attention as he told you about something that really matters to him? When was the last time you had a night of relaxing together, or playing a board game, or reading a book out loud instead of rushing off to sports or dance or a church activity? Look at your schedule and see if perhaps you need to make some changes. If you feel worn out, frazzled and unhappy, maybe there’s a reason. Make a pledge to take back your schedule and refuse to let the world dictate how you spend your time. Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses—prayerfully consider what activities God wants your family to be involved in. Don’t fall for Satan’s lie that you are a bad mother if you don’t give your children all the opportunities that “everyone else” has. I remember facing a lot of criticism from others when my children were little because I refused to put them in preschool. I felt that it was more important for them to be home with me in those few years before they started school (we hadn't yet decided to homeschool them). I can assure you that my children bore no ill effects from the lack of preschool in their lives…in fact, they all learned to read before kindergarten.
Remember, God gave us these children to teach and train, but also to enjoy…are you enjoying yours or just rushing them from one activity to the next? All too soon, they will be grown and will lead busy lives of their own. Make sure you don’t miss out on this very precious time…and now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go have some fun with my kids out in the California sunshine.
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