Originally published Tuesday, 26 June 2012.
It seems like only yesterday that I was holding my bouncing, brown-eyed, baby girl in my arms. She could not have been more beautiful (and more fat)! I loved her instantly, but I had no idea exactly what I would do with her. I was a young, single mom who hardly had a clue about parenting, diapers, budgeting, and the like. As she grew, I could not wait to see her take her first steps, utter her first words, and toddle behind her big brother. Often, I found myself imagining what my children would become and what talents they would have as they grew up. It seems that I always was waiting for “the next step” in their lives.
Today, I am the mother of teenagers, and we are officially at the next step. I now see what my children are becoming, their personalities, and what fine adults they will be. And honestly, it happened all too fast. No longer are they learning to run and play, but rather, they spend their days with teenage friends, talking colleges and futures. It is a bittersweet time of enjoying the hard work I invested through the years, but also knowing that one day, much-too-soon, they will be leaving my home to start new lives on their own.
Isn't that the way it is with many of us? We live in an age of instant success and instant gratification. Patience is no longer a revered virtue, but almost a weakness, it seems. We are always anxiously awaiting the next best thing in our lives. Singles cannot wait to get married. Teens cannot wait to drive. Workers cannot wait to retire. Parents cannot wait for their children to leave the house. We are always looking for the next thing that will makes us happy, the next thing that will surely be better than its predecessor.
Isn't it funny how the job we once prayed for we now hate? Or the children we desperately desired we are now too busy to enjoy? Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with aspiring to new dreams and becoming excited about future days. But there is something to be said for enjoying the current ones.
Allow me to give you a piece of advice. Enjoy your season. Enjoy where you are today. It may not be exactly where you expected to be, but I am certain that this is your God-appointed time to do something special and significant. Every day is. There are tasks and assignments that only you can do. You were meant to be right where you are today. The greatest joy of life is recognizing that moments are temporary. Seasons are temporary. Enjoy them for they will pass all too quickly.
Five years ago, God blessed me with my third and final child. I resolved then and there that I would not let every moment fly by as I had with my first two, but that I would take time to enjoy the nights of crying as I knew they would not last long. I would enjoy her inability to walk for I knew she would one day not allow me to hold her. I would enjoy her toothless smiles and slobbery kisses. She only has a few months before she enters kindergarten and we are enjoying our last full-time days together.
Stay-at-home mom, you may feel like your role is insignificant and that no one notices how hard you work. Savor those times alone with your children and know that there could not be a more significant role on the planet. Working dad, you may be too busy with your employment to appreciate your wife and kids the way you should. Stop and enjoy family picnics and walks in the park. Put the cell phones away and take precious moments to talk with your children. Truly enjoy the ages they are today. They will never be this age again.
Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation's leading authorities on single parent issues. She is a critically-acclaimed author and speaker who shares her heart-wrenching story with audiences around the globe. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and Overwhelmed: The Single Moms Magazine. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.