Parenting my children can be draining at times. My two boys, both who are under five years of age, seem to have more energy as a day lingers on than I do at day’s dawn. Some evenings after work I’ll exhaustively get down on the floor with them and push play-dough into plastic molds pretending we are banishing evil armies while freeing damsels in distress. Other times I retreat to my living room chair always keeping a close eye on the clock so I can be sure to have them in bed by 7:30 PM prompt. Getting my boys to bed reserves me some respite and releases me to an early retirement in my own comfortable mattress. Balancing responsibilities while establishing right priorities is the challenge. By God’s grace I pray He equips me to train my boys in the way they should go despite my persistently fleeting ambition to properly parent.
So much efforts is exerted each day in my workplace; when I come home to my family, the temptation for my soft chair in the living room tends to lures me in. The fabric on the arms of my chair are well worn down from much use, and the springs in the seat ring and pop each time I sit. There is a small, round button on the right hand of the chair that engages the reclining function. It does not take much effort to push in the button. In fact, my boys have learned how easy it is to press on it. Seeing the legs fly forward as a result of their effort has brought many wide smiles to both their faces. This extended chair provided for many climbing adventures on “Mount Daddy” for both my boys. I couldn’t have been more pleased with these types of games. Getting to enjoy the presence of my boys while also relaxing in the comfort of my favorite seat was a pleasure that has not lasted long enough!
One day my oldest son Abe, pulling me off my chair with his left hand grabbing my pinky and his right hand wrapped around my pointer finger, asked me, “Daddy, why do you go to work every day?” As he pulled me into the playroom, I directed him to look on the floor where there is a white metal grate, and I asked him, “Do you know what that is Abe?” “That’s the heater daddy,” he replied. I had him get closer and put his hand over the vent so he could feel the warm air pushing up against his palm. “Daddy goes to work to keep that air coming through that vent nice and warm in the winter time,” I said. Abe’s eyebrows pushed a little closer together. I could see his face puzzling over what I had just told him. It was almost as if there were two thousand more questions he would have wanted to ask. We went on to talk about all the bills involved with heating and cooling our home. I have observed to my surprise and amusement that such discussions are seemingly precious to my children; I’m continually amazed at what they seem to remember most.
My favorite time spent with the boys is when I sing to them in their beds at bedtime. My oldest child started the trend, but Caleb catching on very quickly by watching his older brother chimes in almost every night saying, “Daddy, we want a new song. Sing a bran, bran, bran, bran new one!” Their soft, little hands reach out to grab hold of mine, and I begin to sing new songs on the fly. Sometimes I sing about events that took place that day or about things that make them laugh. One song in particular, that the boys get a kick out of, is about elephants that jump from balloon to balloon; my arm acts as the elephant’s trunk that tickles them when a random balloon pops in the middle of the song. Most of the time I try to sing about the greatness of the God of the Bible. It is such a blessing to sing into their lives. Many times these songs will last until they are sound asleep, and we will have covered topics like the crucifixion, resurrection, salvation, forgiveness of sins, and many more Christian themes; I liken it to sowing the seed of the gospel through spiritual songs.
I could use a daily reminder to treasure the moments I have with my little ones. Sadly, most nights of the work week only allow for two or three hours spent with my boys before bed time, and some days I fear those hours are not spent well. I’m blessed to have a wife who helps as much as she can (who also knows my struggle as she is a full time nurse) and challenges me to make the most of the time. One thing I’ve learned is that in order for me to truly enjoy my children requires a certain level of self sacrifice. Giving up comfort and ease is not high on any persons agenda, but parenting has a sure fire way of purging laziness, propelling maturity, and promoting adulthood.