The other day as I was making our bed, I stubbed my toe.
I stubbed my toe, because in the process of taking off the blankets and pillows, I covered up the small step stool set on the side of the bed by our two year-old daughter. It hurt as only a stubbed toe can, and my first thought was, “I will be glad when we’re past the stools phase of childhood…”
Then, as often happens when I think or say things in a moment of frustration or anger, I was immediately convicted. You see this is the stool Hannie uses to climb into bed with us first thing in the morning so she can “nuggle” with Jules and me. Caleb did the same thing before her, and while he doesn’t need the stool anymore, he still climbs in bed with us when he wakes up as he eases into the day.
What convicted me about the thought was that the “stool-on-the-side-of-the-bed” phase only lasts a short while… a nanosecond in the timeline of parenting. While there is the occasional pain of stubbed toes, those morning hugs and kisses are the rarest of gold that I should memorialize in my heart and mind. It is a fleeting age and phase, as was the one before it.
I am by no means perfect at being appreciative of every moment of parenting, and in truth, there are some things I really haven’t loved… The lack of sleep. The fact that five minutes after the floor is vacuumed there are already bits of Cheerios, Play-do, and something green ground into the fibers of the rugs. The never-ending mystery of “how did they get [insert toy of choice] stuck in there?” I get upset by that stuff.
Unfortunately, though, I think there are some parents who stay focused on those gnats of frustration, those spurs of inconvenience, those ticks of annoyance, and they miss the expanse of delight that each step brings. That centrality of focus can cause resentment to nestle into our souls and be directed at the children who are just being kids. I can be tempted to do that… my wife sometimes jokes that I will make a great “grumpy old man” someday. That’s why the immediate perspective I gleaned today was so welcome… that’s why today I am thankful for the stubbed toe… not because it didn’t hurt, but because I know the little girl that put that stool there did so because she wanted to be close to her momma and dadda.
Soon the next phase will come, and with it the same level of frustrations and joys. But in my heart I am challenged to never wish away the time, because, as cliché as it is, it vanishes in the blink of an eye.