I dropped Mackenzie off at school late today because of a doctor's appointment. Felicity was sleeping in the back seat so it felt as if it was just the two of us in the car. There was no rush, no negativity among siblings, no harsh words to hurry.
She gathered her stuff and got out of the car. "Have a good day," I said to her.
"I love you Mama," was her sweet reply as she shut the door and turned to go.
I pulled the car away slowly and watched her walk into school without her knowing it. Suddenly, I was swallowing hard and fighting tears.
As I watched her long, graceful figure mosey off to class, hair blowing in the wind, backpack slung over one shoulder, gym bag in the other hand, I was struck by the beautiful young woman she has become.
But what brought me to the verge of tears was the flashback to what seems like yesterday when I would drop her off in that same parking lot. Her backpack, precisely half her size, would sway in rhythm with her pigtails as she skipped down the sidewalk, often turning to wave vigorously and make sure I was still there watching.
As badly as I want them to grow up, I don't.
I love the idea of a quiet, clean home, time on my hands, trips to take with no preparations other than my own suitcase. However, today I realized that those days will be here before I know it and these days, the ones filled with noise and chaos and busyness will be gone. The runny noses that need constant wiping, the crumbs that appear out of nowhere, and the dirt that is forever under the nails, go hand in hand with the ear to ear grins when you walk in the door, the pudgy hands that reach for yours, and the sweet snuggles when you least expect them.
Raising young children is hard and exhausting and beautiful and exhilarating. It is never, ever convenient and yet, eternally rewarding.
What I saw moving down that uneven sidewalk between the bushes and the greenhouse was my life's work, the most important thing I will ever do. What I saw was the task God has given me that challenges my very being while encouraging me to grow into a better person. What I saw was one of the best gifts I will ever receive - the ability to co-create with my Maker.
The days, oh how they are long, very, very long. But the years? They are shorter than I care to think about.