Last night as I was getting dinner ready, my 19 month old toddled in to the kitchen from outside where she’d been playing with her older siblings, grinning from ear to ear with dirt smudged all across her mouth.
I paused for a moment, deciding what to do, shrugged, and kept making supper as an, “Oh well,” thought fluttered through my mind.
Later that night as I was giving the baby a bath I thought about all the things I did differently with her older siblings. The constant checking of my firstborn in the night for breathing, the bottle warmers, diaper disposals, and even a wipe warmer—all of which have fallen to the way side, gotten lost or sold at a garage sale.
This baby will never know homemade baby food, matching clothes or even what it’s like to sleep in a crib. (Long story short, we sold our crib, got pregnant and didn’t want to buy a new one.) She lovingly sleeps in a pack and play.
But, with all the things this little one will never know or experience that the older children did (gymnastics for babies), she will also have some things that they didn’t.
Like a mom who doesn’t freak out when she cries. Or who cares too much about wearing the perfectly coiffed outfit instead of the dirty play clothes she’d rather wear. A mom who hugs her tight more often and listens to her stories. Who’ll sit and play instead of always cleaning.
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Who laughs more and yells less.
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And although I’m still working on these things and don’t always get it right—messes still drive me crazy—I’m finding that I do them more than I did years ago.
I’m caring about the things that really matter.
Like showing my kids love. Giving them my time.
And sometimes, even letting them eat a little dirt.
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Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3
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Kendra Roehl received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work and has worked for hospice programs, low-income housing, and the St. Cloud Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The mother of four, she and her husband are foster and adoptive parents and have taken in approximately 20 children over the past six years. She has written two books, the most recent, Grace for the Imperfect Mom: A 31-Day Invitation to Refreshed Mothering, released in May 2015. You can find Kendra writing honestly about topics such as marriage, motherhood, foster care and adoption and social justice at The Ruth Experience. Also find her and her two TRE companions on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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