Saturday, December 10, 2016

Careful Chaos

It's chaos every day in my life, but the crazy is amped up during the holidays. I don't mind.

I am, unashamedly, a lover of all things Christmas related.

Movies, music, decorations, special flavors of coffee and cookies, seasonal scents of candles and lotion...even the crowded stores and biting cold are part of the charm of the season. (Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I mostly shop online from the comfort of my warm home, so I enjoy those last two sparingly.)

And every year I hear the reminders from commercials and radio hosts and books and blogs, to "slow down" and "don't forget, in the rush of the holidays, to enjoy the time with the ones you love."

I try to be conscious of those reminders all through the year, not just during the most wonderful time. I have four children and a very full life, after all, and the tendency is to do everything a mile a minute because a minute is ALL I've got. If I could eat standing up while washing dishes and brushing my teeth and catching up on my Bible study and picking up dirty laundry and exercising and assisting in math homework...I would.

I like to work hard and fast, in order to get to, and be able to enjoy, the slow moments.

One particularly slow moment that has become part of our lives is "snuggle time" at the end of the day. It happens in some form every night, and after a while we don't really think about why we started doing it. It's just a habit.

It all began a little over 7 years ago, when Faith was 7, Clay was 5, Nate was 2, and Gabe was a brand new bun in the oven. All the kids were excited about adding another baby, but Clay began to struggle, behaviorally, and for several weeks he wasn't his normal kind, loving, happy self. One day, while I was praying about what to do, the Lord dropped a thought into my heart.

What if he needed extra reminding that he was loved and valued and that his place in y heart was never going to be taken?

That night, I sat down on the couch and asked him to come and sit with me. We cuddled together and watched TV, under a blanket, him twirling the ends of my hair around his finger.

The next night, he asked me if we could do "snuggle time" again...and the rest is history. We usually snuggle in our king size bed now, rather than the living room, and now that the kids are way bigger and there are 4 of them, its a two shift process. Snuggles with Nate and Gabe first, and then Faith and Clay come in after the younger two go to bed.

Last night...last night I called for the big kids when the little boys headed to their beds. Clay came first, and he had a funny look on his face.

"Mom, I don't want to do snuggle time tonight."

"Why not?" I asked, sure that he was in the middle of something and just needed a few minutes to shut it down.

"I'm not a little kid anymore, Mom. I don't have to do snuggle time every night."

My. Heart. Broke.

In a flash that seemed to last forever, I saw his sweet little face, asking to snuggle, and I saw all the years before and since, moments I've cherished, and moments I've glossed over, and many, many more that are just a part of our daily lives, that  I can't ever recount. I saw them all on his face, and it was almost more than I could bear.

You can never be reminded to savor moments enough. Ever. Because even in all my attempting to slow down and be present...somehow I missed that my firstborn son had outgrown something that was started for the sake of HIS heart.

I've been sad all day today, and trying so hard to move through moments more carefully.

I want to see all my lovely decorations, and sing "Peace on earth" and actually FEEL the peace that reminders of Christ's birth should bring.

I want to sing "Silent Night" and not think snarky thoughts about how I've never had a silent night since I had kids.

I want to cherish the moments with my children, because Lord knows I can never cherish them too much.

If you're a mom, you can understand my heartache.

Certainly, the mother of Emmanuel knew even more pain.

I wonder if she held Him on the night of His birth, and promised His Father that she would keep Him safe and let Him know He was loved by her. Did she ever despair of how to handle a certain behavior or action or personality trait? Did she WISH a day would just be over so there would be some quiet? Did she hold her breath so she didn't gag when she caught a whiff of teenage boy stench? Did she give up on toenail clipping reminders? Did she think "some day, please God, I won't have to remind him to shower" or "we will go bankrupt before He gets full."

And did she, when she watched Him suffer and die...did she grieve that she ever took a moment for granted? Did she LONG for the teenage boy stench again?

Of course she did.

And so it's no wonder that God reminds us to "be still" and to "wait on the Lord" and to let Him be "peace" for us.

Because how much more would we grieve if we hadn't ever once slowed down to enjoy the moments?

It would be more than we could bear. And The Lord knows it, and so He reminds us.

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