Last week, we celebrated my firstborn’s fifth birthday. Next week, baby sister turns two. It’s birthday season in the Kopitzke castle, and Queen Mommy is waxing nostalgic.
To me, birthdays aren’t just childhood milestones. They’re a chance to shout, “Yay, God!” for creating each daughter unique, beautiful, and according to his perfect plan. More than that, I celebrate my girls’ birthdays as a type of anniversary for me—(1) the day I entered motherhood, clueless, bidding a shocking farewell to my old friends Sleep and Dangly Earrings; and (2) the day my heart busted at the seams to welcome baby #2 with first-round love and, frankly, still a few remnants of cluelessness.
Five years may not be much in the course of a lifetime. But in this span I’ve seen a seven-pound wrinkled bundle transform into a lanky, ponytailed preschooler who articulates words like “agenda” and “magnificent” and hands me a hall pass from her play school kit when I need to use the bathroom. Five years is a lifetime for her. Five years flew by without permission. Five years stood painfully still.
Soon, five years will be just a memory.
And that’s what kills me. My girls—who they are today, those precious faces, those sweet giggly voices and petite sticky palms clutching my fingers—are not who they will be tomorrow. They’re always growing, always changing. Always slipping away.
When I reminisce over photos of my girls at younger ages, I think, I’ll never get that little person back. She is someone different now. Someone even more delightful, more beloved with each passing season, yes. But a private space in my heart stings when I realize all of her earlier days are just snapshots en route to graduation.
It’s tempting to wish I could suspend time, to ensure my daughters will always love me unconditionally like they do today, always sing to Jesus with innocent faith, and always hold the promise of an unblemished future as they do right now, this moment.
But then I cruise through Proverbs and remember—that’s not the point of parenting.
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it,” (Proverbs 22:6).
I know this verse. It’s another of those familiar go-to lines in my arsenal of encouragement. Yet when was the last time I really unpacked it?
- Train a child. My Bible notes say another word for “train” here is “start.” Start a child in the way he should go. Eighteen years in my house are just a launch pad. The ultimate purpose of parenting is to equip, teach, love—then let the children go. Is anybody else weepy just thinking about that?
- When he is old. Only God knows how many days we have on Earth, but chances are my babies won’t just grow out of their kindergarten shoes—they’ll grow old. Which means they’ll build their own families and establish their own legacies, founded largely on the start that my husband and I gave them. That is a huge responsibility for a parent. But it’s also a tremendous privilege.
- He will not turn from it. The truth is, my children aren’t the only people growing up. So am I. I’m not the same person I was five years ago, either. But isn’t that the beauty of the Christian life? There is a way we should go, which suggests forward movement, drawing nearer to God. I want that for my kids as much as I want it for myself.
So today, I embrace the sandbox stage and look forward to tomorrow, for the chance to see more of who God designed my girls to become. I can already tell there are some benefits to parenting older children. Dangly Earrings are back in my life. Sleep and I are still estranged. But that is a devotion for another time.
Happy birthday, my darling girls. Happy anniversary to me. And thank you, Lord of All, for the great gift of being a mom.
If this post encouraged you, please feel free to pass it on. You might also like Sandy Grass, Taste of Candy Land, Don't Lie to Me, and Honey, Sweetheart, Sugar Pie.