We’ve been back in school for one week. A week filled with tempter tantrums, late nights and even later mornings. Heading back to school after seventeen days of family time means finding the kids’ school uniforms, it means going back to the grocery store for food besides cookies and apples, and it means saying goodbye to so much together time. But going back also means dreading the busyness that fragments our family.
Christmas break is all family time, all snuggling on the couch, all closeness and no schedule. A dear friend’s daughter forgot to shower for so many days in a row, they had to take her for professional help to remove the rat’s nest in her hair. No place to be, just the family together on the couch. For seventeen days.
Vacations like this touch a mom’s need to gather all her kids around and just breathe them in. Long breaks together bring out our need to keep everyone right here with us. To cling to every single moment of their dependence on us, to savor their sweetness, to preserve our families.
And this is also when scarcity and fear start to creep in.
These kids will NEVER be this young again. This is the last time they will ask to ride the mall’s junky carosaul, the final time they’ll all order kids’ meals, the very last Christmas for Santa and Kindness Elves. Everything changes after this. Hold on to these last opportunities. Cling to what we have now.
I’ve done this for years. I’ve white-knuckled parenting seasons, believing this is my last chance for family closeness. Even the hard ones, I’ve worried I wasn’t soaking up enough of our intact, little family.
When our kids had colic, I felt too guilty to let them cry in the cribs. I was afraid I would one day miss holding a baby—even if that baby was angry and inconsolable. I grinned my way through the pre-school years, with three kids under the age of three home with me all day. They will be gone one day, soak up every moment, even when everyone desperately needs a nap.
Maybe I did this because the world preaches scarcity to young moms. Enjoy every moment because the sweetness, the closeness, the dependency don’t last.
But guess what I’m discovering? THEY DO! The kids change, and the seasons change, but the closeness comes, just like it always did.
More and more I’m learning, parenting isn’t an exercise in scarcity, chasing what we used to do and what we used to have. Parenting is all about abundance. Our kids need us, when they have acid reflux or when they have a broken heart. We bond in different ways, laughing about a disaster recipe and a horrible movie. And the kids still hug and kiss. Because, of course. Just because they’ve traded Tangled for Taylor Swift doesn’t mean everything is lost.
I think belief in a generous God means belief in abundance. He will always give more miracles, more grace, more memories, more special moments, more closeness, more silliness. He doesn’t run out. Believing He does is the opposite of everything He does in the Bible. Always more chances, always more love.
So now the kids are back in school and the house is quiet. No one is begging me to go on a bike ride with them or to watch a family movie. But our closeness is still there, and we’ll need it for everything this next season has to offer.
Bring it on, Busy Weeknights When We Don’t Eat Until Seven. Give us your best shot, Friend Drama That Leads To Late-Night Discussions. We can take your busyness, ballet recitals, and basketball tournaments.
No scarcity here. Yes, January will look different than those weeks we piled on the couch together to snuggle, but we will still be together. Celebrating that abundance.