How perspective makes us better parents.
Apr 22, 2009
It is 9:30 p.m. and I am still wrestling my squirming toddler, trying to get her to go to sleep—and it isn’t helping that my seven-year-old son keeps getting out of bed and peeking into her room.
I try to shield Olivia’s eyes and shoo him out, but she spies her big brother out of bed and ready to play. Jackson scrambles back to his room and I snuggle her and hold her tight, kissing her head and singing “Jesus Loves Me” in her ear.
When finally she surrenders to sleep, I slip away and go to my son who still isn’t staying in his bed.
I crawl into bed with him and he lays his head on my shoulder and curls up next to me. It is 10 p.m. and I’m exhausted. But I am not cross with him tonight. I just hold him tight and tell him stories about when he was little. I am tender and sentimental. I am cherishing him, even as my weariness grows.
Tonight, I can’t take my kids for granted. Tonight, I can’t focus on my tired body or my to-do list waiting downstairs. Tonight, I am grateful for every precious moment I have with my children.
You see, today my friend, Heather Spohr, said good bye to her baby girl Maddie, a toddler just one month younger than my Olivia. Today, friends and family gathered around Heather and her husband, Mike, trying to imagine how Maddie could really be gone. Today, instead of greeting another day with their precious Maddie, Heather and Mike face a lifetime without her.
So now, when I look into my Livie’s blue eyes, I think of Maddie’s bright blue eyes as she batted her thick eyelashes. When Livie claps her hands and squeals with uncontrollable joy, I remember Maddie’s infectious laughter.
Maddie is teaching me to treasure every moment of my children’s lives.
But really, that is what Maddie has been teaching people since her tiny heart first started to beat.
Heather and Mike had learned the lesson. I believe it is why their lives with Maddie were so charmed. Maddie was a miracle. She had survived when doctors said she wouldn’t. Heather and Mike had endured so many terrifying moments, begging God to spare their daughter. After all of those close calls, Heather and Mike didn’t take one second with Maddie for granted.
Heather and Mike were completely in love with Maddie—and Maddie shined because of it. And now, Maddie is teaching the rest of us, sharing the secret that living life with constant gratitude for our children makes every moment sparkle.