Do you ever wish time with your children would slow down? That you could press pause on this moment in your life?
This week my youngest baby has been learning to stand up. She’s thrilled with it – she stands carefully, laughs and claps her hands. And I feel ridiculously proud of her. “Look, everyone,” I say multiple times a day, “she’s standing up!!”
I’ve been celebrating the milestone. But, of course, it also makes me sigh a little – she’s growing up so fast…
Surprised by sadness
Life with young children involves a lot of laughing, a fair amount of raising your eyebrows, and a continuous wiping of sticky hands/runny noses.
It also involves a surprising amount of sadness and poignancy.
There’s nothing tragic for me to report; no secret illnesses. Just run of the mill, wonderful, precious children. So why so sad?
I don’t think it’s just me, although I admit I have the ability to sniff out a sad story in the sweetest fairy tale.
These are things I hear a lot about life with little ones:
- they grow up so fast
- blink and you’ll miss it
- just enjoy this time because it doesn’t last forever
- they’ll have left home before you know it
It triggers a sense of panic in me.
I recently saw a blog post saying something along the lines of “You get 18 summers with your child – make sure you don’t squander them!” Or how about this one: “Childhood has 936 Saturdays – make each one count!” Pressure, anyone?
Childhood: The Golden Age?
This is the message I’m hearing about childhood:
This is The Golden Age. You don’t want to miss it (or mess it up). Be careful or you’ll regret it.
I’ve been challenged recently to wonder, is this really a Christian way of thinking? Is this really how the Bible views childhood?
Is this really the Golden Age, when the kids are cute and fluffy in the mornings, and it’s all down hill from here?
The Bible and growing up
1. The Bible has a positive view of growing up
The most obvious example is Jesus. Jesus grew up, and it was a good thing. Matthew’s Gospel says when the family returned home from their trip to Jerusalem… “and Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man”.
The Bible talks a lot about raising children – in the sense of bringing them up, teaching them and imparting wisdom to them.
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:7
The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom for us to teach our children and at the heart of it is this: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. Proverbs 1:7
The biblical expectation is that a child who learns that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, will be an adult who knows that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Growing up in the Lord is a good thing. Maturation of body and spirit is a good thing.
I loved hearing my children first learn to say my name, but I love hearing them say thank you to God for His many blessings. I love hearing them growing in wisdom. I’m looking forward to more of that.
2. Growing up doesn’t mean moms aren’t needed
I do not enjoy putting away baby clothes. They carry sweet memories of sweet little people. But by God’s mercy, those sweet little people are still with me, only in slightly bigger clothes.
I am still their mother. They still need me every day. As they grow older, the needs will change – less nose wiping, more talking things through.
But are we heading to a time when our children are fully grown and don’t need us at all?
I don’t think so, although I know the way I fulfil my role as a mother will look very different. Adult children still need love, wisdom and support. But it needs to be given with appropriate biblical boundaries.
Here is what they will need: my kids will still need me to be godly when they grow up. They’ll need me to a godly mother of grown ups, a godly mother-in-law, and a godly grandma.
That’s an amazing thought. It might seem to the world as if your influence for good or ill has faded, when children reach adulthood. In fact, it is huge. It just might be found more in the holding back, and in the respecting of boundaries, than in being the loudest voice in the room.
They’ll need me to pray and they’ll need me to a good example of someone who clings to Christ in good times and not so good.
Which makes me realize, growing up in the Lord is a lifelong endeavor. It encourages me that growing to be like Jesus now, is of lasting value, for everyone in my life.
2 reasons we need help
Of course, feeling a bit sad and poignant at the passing of babyhood is a complex thing. My emotions about it can be so raw.
Babyhood feels like a simple phase, when most problems can be solved by milk and cuddles. I flinch from my darling baby launching out into a harsh world. But I know I need to truly let the joy and hope of the resurrection sink into my heart and soul. And I need to remember again that my sovereign Heavenly Father is also the sovereign Heavenly Father of my precious children.
We need to let Scripture shape our thinking and feelings about growing up.
- our children absorb a sadness which isn’t of God
- we absorb a sadness which isn’t of God
We can celebrate milestones and not cling to nostalgia because the best truly is yet to come. Childhood is not The Golden Age which is passing away and the rest of life is downhill from here on in.
Our Christian life is one of glory into greater glory. Blessings heading into greater blessings. Even in the difficult parts and those marred by tears and sadness. Because we’re promised He Himself will wipe our tears away in the place of no more tears.
Childhood is a journey of growing up in the Lord and growing up with the Lord. And it’s a joy and a privilege to watch.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18