Lessons from my grandparents….

Yesterday morning, as the morning before, I finally forced myself to leave the warmth of my bed and begin another hectic day.  It was 5 am, and my almost three-year-old son had just startled me awake by shouting in my ear “Mommy. Mommy. MOMMY. I need to pee pee. I want some milk, pwease. I can get in your bed, now?”  This was subsequently followed by my newborn’s grunts, which quickly changed to screams, that announced she was ready for a diaper change and her morning bottle.  My husband had not gotten up yet, but his alarm was set to go off in the next thirty minutes or so, so I wanted him to get those last few precious minutes of sleep.  So I grabbed the newborn, took her into the kitchen (where I stepped on one of my son’s army men), and with my only free arm poured my son’s sippy cup of milk.  I then proceeded to spill some water all over the counter while trying to mix a bottle of formula (again, with one hand) for my daughter.  I laid down the screaming infant in her bassinet long enough to take my son his milk.  When I went back into my bedroom, he had used the restroom by himself, but was standing on my husband’s side of the bed with his pants around his ankles, because we have not yet mastered pulling up the pants after pottying.  Before I could get to him, he had proceeded to poke my husband in the back, saying “Daddy, I’m awake.  I’m awake, Daddy! DADDY!” Somehow, my husband still did not wake up, and I was able to pull up my son’s pants, tuck him into our bed, and go change my still-screaming daughter’s diaper and give her a bottle without disturbing him. It was only a matter of time before I would have to start getting my son ready for nursery school, at which time, the baby will be ready for another bottle.  Whew.

As I was sitting there in the now quiet living room, I began to meditate on the past fifteen minutes.  I then began to laugh.  Maybe it was delirium. Maybe it was exhaustion, I don’t know.  I couldn’t help but paint a mental picture of myself running around like a chicken with my head cut off, a million things to do and only two, actually one, hand to do them with.  Bedtime the night before had finally come at around midnight, so I was going on about five hours of sleep, which is not much for me.  And still, I laughed.  What have I gotten myself into? Am I doing a good job? Can I even survive this?  I haven’t even gone back to work yet, and the demands are not going to lessen when I do.  Maybe I laughed to keep from crying.  Maybe I laughed when I looked around my living room and saw the army man that had almost caused my demise just a few moments before.  Then I remembered my sweet Nannie.  She always tells us to enjoy this chaos, because one day when we’re her age, we will look back and laugh at all the things our children put us through, and we will treasure every second of it.

Okay, so maybe I can survive.  But how? Time goes so quickly.  My almost-three-year-old has taught me that- he has grown so quickly.  My husband and I are about to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary this year, and it hardly seems possible.  Time is a funny thing.  The Bible teaches us that life is like a vapor.

James 4:14 says:

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.  For what is your life? It is a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

A vapor.  A mist.  Something that is here for one moment, that we can touch and see and feel, and then it is gone.  How can I, as a Christian, make the most of the time that God has given me?  How can I survive everything I have to do and still get the most out of this life?  I don’t want to just survive.  I want to die knowing I not only did the best I could, but knowing that I relished every second.  I don’t want to look back as an old lady and only treasure it then.  I want to treasure it while it is happening.  And I want my husband and my children to know I am treasuring every moment with them.  How can I do this?

I started to think about people that make me feel treasured.  My first answer was obvious to me- my grandparents.  I have been blessed to know all my grandparents and most of my great-grandparents.  I am very close to all of them.  The way a good grandparent makes their grandchildren feel is a precious and unique thing.  No one loves me quite like they do.  I started to think about specific things they do that make me feel special, and how I can apply those things to my life.

#1- They look at me in the face.

Ever thought about that? When I speak to them, or they speak to me, they look at me.  They really, really look at me.  They make eye contact.  They soak up my every word, because they are interested in what I have to say.  They adore me so much, it’s like they literally hang on my every word.  No one else in my life does that to such a degree.  My husband might feel really weird if I actually started looking at him when he spoke to me.  Oftentimes, I’m listening while doing something else.  Mommies are multi-taskers.  We have to be.  But once in a while, I need to actually look at him.  After all, he is a very handsome fellow.  But he deserves to feel special and adored.  So do my children, for that matter.  I need to soak up every little word they say.  My son’s imagination is out of this world, and one day I am going to wish I had sat down beside him and looked at his face while he was telling one of those detailed and often outlandish little stories he tells.  I want my daughter to be able to look into my eyes when she tells me about her first crush or about what she and her friends are doing at school and realize that I am genuinely interested in what she has to say.

#2- They are never texting or looking at their Ipad or smart device while I am with them.

Granted, I know they come from a different generation.  They are not as interested in these devices as the younger generations.  But even if they knew how to text, tweet, or Facetime someone, they would never choose to do those things over spending time with one of their grandchildren.  Their time with us is precious, and they would never make us compete for their attention by pulling out their phones at the dinner table or checking out Pinterest on their Ipads while we are all at home together on a rainy day.  It just wouldn’t happen. I don’t want to compete with anyone or anything for attention at home, and my husband and children shouldn’t have to either. I am going to make a conscious effort to limit my time on these devices to when the children are sleeping or my husband isn’t home.

#3- They always hug and kiss me “hello” and “goodbye”.

Grandparents are great about this.  When I enter their homes, I get a big smile, hug, and/or kiss.  No one greets you quite like a grandparent.  It is the sincere “I am so glad you are here.  I couldn’t think of anyone else I’d rather see or anything else I’d rather be doing than spending time with you.”  I don’t think I ever welcome my husband home from work like this.  I may say “Hey, Honey. How was your day?” or something cordial, but where’s the sincerity in that? I am glad he’s home.  I miss him when he’s gone.  I usually think to myself a million times a day “I can’t wait to tell Clay about this.” I generally forget all those little moments by the time he gets home, but I do wish he was there to share them with me.  The point is, I do feel that way, and I’m not sure I ever convey how I really feel by my actions.  This same thing should apply to our children.  I am better at this, I think.  There’s nothing like a hug from my son with those little arms squeezing my neck tight.  I just hope I don’t ever stop doing this for him.

#4- They always have time for me. Always.

It doesn’t matter if it’s five minutes, five hours, or five days.  If they have it to give, they give it.  I’m not just talking about the quantity of the time they share.  It’s the quality.  This is a repetition of the things I’ve already listed above, but they make the most of the time they give with me.  They are attentive.  They make me feel special.  If my Nannie knows I’m coming, you can almost guarantee she will have cooked one of my favorite desserts or dishes before I come.  Same goes for my Me-maw– if there was any possibility that I was hungry, there will be macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes waiting for me.  They take interest in things happening in my life.  They ask about the kids.  They ask about how being off work is going.  They ask how I feel about going back to work.  And they aren’t just making small-talk.  They genuinely want to know.  I want my husband and children to see sincerity in my actions and my words the way I see it in my grandparents’.

#5- The time they spend with me never feels like a chore or obligation.

I have never felt like I was a burden on my grandparents.  Never.  They never complained all those times they baby-sat us while our parents were at work.  They never once groaned when they picked us up from school or took us to ball practices.  I never had to beg them to come watch me play basketball.  They were at every graduation, every wedding, every birth of every grandchild if at all possible.  They were present, and it was obvious that they wanted to be there.  In fact, they were hurt if we didn’t call and make sure they were coming.  That’s just the way it was.  We were blessed because their presence wasn’t the exception- it was the rule.  I want my husband and kids to have that, too.  I don’t want to miss t-ball games for work.  I don’t want to miss my husband’s softball games to catch us on grocery shopping or whatever the excuse may be.  I want them to expect me to be there because they know I want to be.

While these are all incredible blessings I have enjoyed my entire life, I realize they are not just because I have unbelievably precious grandparents.  All these concepts have Biblical roots.  God explains to husbands and wives that for them to have the best relationships possible, they will have to work at it.

1 Peter 3:7 tells husbands “… dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

A husband is supposed to dwell with them (their wives) according to knowledge. He needs to get to know his wife.  He needs to be able to tell when she needs more quality time with him.  He needs to know what she likes and dislikes, and he needs to know how to make her feel appreciated.  I once heard a preacher say “You tried every way possible to get to know your wife when you were dating.  Once she becomes your wife, you didn’t graduate from learning about her.  You just started taking advanced courses.  The journey of learning your wife should never end.”

Wives are also commanded to honor and be in subjection to their husbands (See Eph. chapter 5, Colossians chapter 3).  How can we truly give honor to our husbands unless we take the time to get to know him and continue to learn about him?  We are his Help Meet.  We complete what he has lacking, as God tells us in Genesis. Genesis 2:20 tells us that “…for Adam, there was not found an help meet for him.”  How can we complete a man if we do not know him well enough to know what he needs?

Every relationship in our lives, be it the husband/wife relationship, the relationship with our children, with friends, siblings, parents, or whatever the case may be, deserves our best.  God says in Ecc. 9:10 “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest.” We need to do our best while we are alive to do it, because we only get one chance.  The Bible also teaches that we will reap what we sow.  We get out of it what we put into it.  Romans 2:6 says, “Who will render to every man according to his deeds.”  God will render unto us according to our actions.  We have to put in the effort and do the work to please Him.  In so doing, we will get more out of this life.

And so, after thinking about all those things, I have decided to apply them to my life.  As always, I need that practical application that I can actually put to use.  I think I will start by turning off this computer and holding my baby girl.  Until next time…..

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