It all started with soggy running shoes around six AM. I woke extra early to get a short run in before the kids woke up and Grant left for work. I went out to the back patio to grab my shoes when I discovered that I had completely forgotten what had transpired the afternoon before.
My tired mind flashed back to the image of a two-year-old all grins and giggles as she waded in the baby pool using my only pair of running shoes as some sort of dilapidated water skis.
Of course, I then did the unthinkable. I picked up my still soggy shoes and went running anyway, trying desperately to not think about what kind of bacteria was likely breeding around my toes with each squishy step.
And then there was the melted red crayon later that afternoon which basically ruined an entire load of laundry. Crayon was left in pocket of afore mentioned two-year-old. I barely even mentioned the incidents, realizing they were not intentional acts of destruction.
If anything, it was my fault for leaving my running shoes next to the pool and for not checking pockets before throwing laundry into the wash. My toddler was just being who she was, all of thirty-five months old.
But late that evening, when I was finishing up housework and about to get ready for bed, it was the toilet paper that pushed me. I walked in to the girls’ bathroom to find what looked like at least half a roll of toilet paper which had been finely shredded in little pieces everywhere. Almost as if a squirrel was trying to turn the tile into a comfy nest.
That’s when I felt my blood pressure rise and I knew this wasn’t an innocent act. This was not cute. “Who did this with the toilet paper?“ I called down the hall, my voice agitated.
I heard a little voice own it immediately, “I did it, Mommy! I DID IT!”
At that moment, Grant walked down the hall and saw me beginning to pick up the shreds of toilet paper. “Can you believe this? I cannot believe she would think this was okay?!” I exclaimed to him.
I could still hear her little voice saying something down the hall but was too caught up in my frustration to listen. I would go to her room and talk with her. Momma was not happy.
“GraceAnna, stop!” Grant’s voice interrupted my thoughts. “Step back and look at this.” I stood up and stepped out of the bathroom to survey the damage again. “GraceAnna, she wasn’t trying to shred the paper for fun. See that toilet paper roll, she was putting the new one on the toilet paper holder. All the shredding was her trying to get the wrapper off.”
I stood there quietly and saw that to my shock, Grant was right. I had totally missed it. I had totally and completely missed it.
The little shreds had meant something. She was trying to accomplish something.
That’s when I heard the happy voice down the hall exclaim again, “I did it Mommy! I DID IT!”
I looked at Grant and with tears in my eyes said, “Grant, I didn’t even see it.”
“Come here!” I called to the little voice and she ran out of her room ever so proudly. I got down on my knees and said, “Momma is so proud of you for putting the toilet paper roll on the holder. What a good helper you are to Mommy. Thank you so much!”
I gave her the biggest hug and showered her with kisses and she beamed from head to toe before I sent her back to bed.
As I got back on the bathroom floor to finish cleaning up, my heart felt much like the tiny shreds of tissue I threw in the waste basket. I had almost missed it.
Seeing With New Eyes
When you are a mom of young children, it can be so easy to get wrapped up in all the doing. There are so many daily needs and demands that little people require of you, that it can often be hard to see beyond the task at hand.
But as moms who have been transformed by Christ, we must ask the Lord to help us see beyond the daily routine, to the hearts of our children.
Mothering isn’t just doing, it is seeing.
In Matthew chapter 19, wedged between Jesus’ teaching on divorce and sharing the gospel with a rich young man, is the account of Jesus blessing the little children (see also Mark 10 and Luke 18).
People (presumably parents) were bringing children to Jesus that “he might touch them.” The disciples sized up the situation and they acted accordingly. These children were a distraction to Jesus’ ministry and they promptly “rebuked the people.”
Jesus however, didn’t see the situation that way. Instead, He was indignant at his disciples for their actions and exclaimed, “Let the little children come to me, for such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
I know many of us know this story, but do we as moms really know it?
Throughout His earthly ministry Jesus was always doing this…always seeing beyond the circumstance at hand. Seeing beyond the disease. Beyond the storm. Beyond pangs of hunger and bread and fish.
Almost as if He had a completely different set of eyes for every situation.
Which He did.
And He does.
He has eyes that pierce the depths.
I cannot tell you how many times my mind has thought about that shredded roll of toilet paper this week. It was a stark reminder that without the Lord’s help I cannot see beyond the temporal with my children. I need to really see not just do.
I’m not just managing little ones. Even though I am doing that. I’m not just getting through the routine of the day and making sure everyone is fed and clothed and (hopefully) rested.
I am shepherding the souls of children who will never die.
The beauty of the gospel is that He has given me new eyes and a new heart. I have been transformed and am being transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and truth of His perfect Word.
I don’t have to just clean up shredded toilet paper, wet shoes, or melted crayons. With His help, I can see hearts that need love, training, and the forgiveness of Jesus.
I have the privilege of not just doing, but really seeing.
What a journey this is. What a joy. I am laughing along the way, I am crying, I am growing, and I am learning to see.