Dear Mamas of little ones,
I sat behind you in church this week.
I saw you struggle with holding two kiddos because the one in your arms wasn’t happy when another one wanted to join.
I saw your son completely messing up your hair.
I saw you and your husband hand the toddler (who had a cold) back and forth because he couldn’t decide which lap he liked best.
I saw the look on your face as you jumped up to get the son who crawled under the pew and ended up behind you.
I saw you switch spots with other kids to stand next to the one who was being a stinker, the one who thought you didn’t actually see him. (Yay for eyes in the back and side of your head!)
I saw you leave for what you thought were endless bathroom and water breaks.
I saw your daughter stick her fingers in her ears and loudly proclaim, “I don’t like this song!”
I saw the desperation on your face when church went a bit longer than usual because you were on borrowed time.
My kids saw it too. My 11-year-old daughter leaned over and asked, “Do you miss that?” I smiled and said, “Sometimes.” And by sometimes I think I meant not really. It wasn’t that long ago that I was you. My son got so many lollipops each service that he might as well have had an IV. (I did it because after every song he would loudly ask, “DONE?!” because he was ready to go home.) My Mom-bag was packed with dolls and books and snacks. My hair and clothes were disheveled.
Now I’m in the stage where we sit together without shuffling positions. My kids sing along, and we talk about the message on the way home. I’m at the stage where I see each of my kiddos blossoming an independent relationship with Jesus—one that is becoming theirs, not mine or my husband’s.
I tell you this, not to brag but to encourage you to hang in there. Sometimes worship feels five hours long, but I promise that in five years it will feel like you blinked. You will look next to you and see kiddos who got themselves dressed and who can make it through without crayons.
As my children and I watched you and smiled (we thought your kids were adorable!), something else dawned on me. God saw you, and he was smiling too. He loves the sacrifices you make to get his children to his house. He loves that you sacrifice what would mean more free time, less hassle, and less exhaustion to keep meeting with the people who encourage you. He is your faithful Father and could not be more proud of you.
I know there are moments when you get in the car feeling like everything went wrong that day. There is grace for you. Jesus (a 12-year-old who went to his Father’s house even without his parents) paid for the days you lost your patience and your kids were obstinate. Thanks to Jesus, God simply sees you as his righteous holy child who is taking care of his other righteous holy children.
Soon enough you will be sitting behind parents with little ones, wondering where the time went. You’ll look over at the kiddo who is taller than you and thank God that he was faithful when the kids were little and that he is faithful right now. Then you’ll pray because you’re about to enter the high school years and you trust he’ll be faithful then too.
After church you’ll walk up to the new batch of young moms and encourage them—because you’ve been there.
Linda Buxa is a writer, Bible study leader, and retreat speaker. She is thankful for the people who reassured her that children’s noise was a blessing, that it brought life and energy to their little church.