Think about how you would finish the following sentence: “Children are…” These days, I’m a little scared of how Tonya and I might finish it. Both of us have now learned to function in a state of semi-exhaustion from keeping up with the schedules that Ryan (our eleven-year old) and Royce (our eight-year old) bring. Because of this, we might finish the sentence: “Children are draining, demanding, needy, expensive, ungrateful, and hard.”
We feel like the parents in that story about two teenagers who were talking. One teen said to the other, “I’m worried. My father goes to work every day to keep a roof over my head, food in my stomach, clothes on my back, and a car under me. When he comes home, he mows the yard, trims the hedge, and pays the bills. My mother cooks all our meals, washes the dishes, cleans the house, and does the laundry.” The second teen said, “So what have you got to be worried about? It sounds like you’ve got it made.” To that, the first teen replied, “I’m worried they will try to escape!”
It’s just this kind of thing that keeps my attitude towards my two boys from always being what it should be. I become easily annoyed. I get ill. I walk around cranky. Someone once asked a little boy, “Does your daddy have a den?” The boy said, “No, he just growls all over the house.” That’s me too many times.
When we come to the Bible, however, we see that it teaches that parents should place an incalculable value on children. Psalm 127:3-5 says: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.” When women such as Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Hannah learned they were barren, they were devastated. They wanted to be mothers! They understood the worth and importance of children.
On my desk, taped just below my computer monitor, is a good word from Anthony Mullinax. It is entitled “If I Knew Then.” He writes:
“There are so many daily joys for the parents of young children: pushing their swing, bouncing them on your knee, playing horsey, shooting marbles, playing baseball, etc. Then one day it dawns on you that you aren’t doing those things anymore – they’ve outgrown it. You realize that somewhere back there was the very last time. If I knew then what I know now, I would have savored the last occurance of each of those childhood games a little more. I would have lingered a little longer at the swing, bounced them on my knee a little longer that last time. When we played horsey and that inevitable, gleeful plea came, ‘One more time! Daddy, one more time,’ I would have crawled across that floor on my hands and knees until only sheer exhaustion made me drop.”
I keep that piece taped to my desk where I can see it because I want to make the most of my boys’ childhood days. Through all of the time consumption, energy drain, financial outlay, and downright aggravation, I want to keep in mind that this part of their lives won’t last forever. I can already drag out the old videos of them as babies and toddlers and feel a tug at my heart for days that will never been again. Yes, being a parent is tough, and if I had even one more “arrow” in my “quiver,” I don’t know how I’d make it. Still, I want to do a good job as a father to Ryan and Royce. For one reason, my heavenly father expects nothing less. But for another one, it really is the desire of my heart.