Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Teach Me to Number My Days

For my Children.

Dear Kiddos,

Almost every time we go to the grocery store together, an older lady-a different woman every time, always a stranger-comes up to remind me that these are the best days of my life.  These women always look a little surprised to be alone at the store after so many years of hauling babies, to be pushing a shopping cart without children hanging all over it, to be clutching a list with so little needed to make the meals, now that it is back to just her and her husband.  They look at you guys wistfully and tell me that time passes so quickly.

I always assure them that I know.  But of course I don't, not really.

Someday, when you are grown, I want you to know that I found every day with you precious.  That I always knew in my heart that even when the road looked long, the days of you all being babies in my arms and on my lap and around my feet would be gone in a blink.  I want you to know that I noticed.  I noticed how fast a month went, and a year, and five years.  That even when things were hard, and four of you were crying at once, I wanted to be exactly where I was.

I want you to know that sometimes things will be hard.  That you may often wonder why life isn't easier than this.  I do too.  But doing hard things is what refines your character, buffs off the rough and selfish edges.  I know that I still need a lot of refining, trust me.

I want you to know that it was always worth pushing the hundred pounds of double stroller up a mile of hill to get to a secluded lake.

There are moments that you won't get back.  Take your chance to be there, all there, right now.  You guys naturally do this.  But I can forget.

Today we went to the lake, and you read me the sign.  "Beach closed.  No swimming."  You were shocked when I let you put your feet in anyway.  Sometimes you have to break the rules a little.  After all, an Indian summer in childhood is fleeting, and the winter will be long.  I know that, even if you don't yet.

One day, if you ever wonder why your Daddy and I wanted a big family, I want you to know that we were giving you a gift.  The best and most lasting gift we could give you.  That there is nothing that money could buy that will ever replace this in your life:

And because of the joy here.  We had every single one of you because you made our lives full of joy.  There are no choices that we could have made that would ever have been better than this.

By the time you are grown, I want you to have learned that happiness and joy are different.  You may not always feel happy when you are scrubbing the carpet from yet another potty accident.  There are times when you are all fussing that I feel more harried than happy, yes.  Happiness can be a little selfish in its demands.  But I hope you always felt the joy here, that you always saw in my eyes that you were precious.

Every day, at least one of you slips your hand into mine.  You fight to sit on my lap.  You call me imperiously in the middle of the night.  You creep between us in bed.  You trust me with your heart.  I want you to know that I recognize that as the great gift that it is.  Your Daddy and I know what it means to be rich, and it has nothing to do with money.

I want you to know that I genuinely liked you, not just loved you.  That I liked spending all my time with you guys and your Daddy.  That being together was my favorite thing.

Sometimes I am busy.  Sometimes I am cranky.  Sometimes I am discouraged.  Most days, I am tired.

But there are no days when I am not grateful to be your Mama.

I don't need to be reminded that these are the best days of my life.  I already know.



  1. This is beautiful Shannon!  It brought tears to my eyes and after going through three pairs of underware, two pairs of pants, and an accident on the floor I needed to read this!  Of course all of these accidents were mixed in with time on the potty too so this too shall pass...

  2. Thank you, from one tired mother to another. I think I need to print this out and read it regularly.

  3. Shannon@ChickensinMyKitchenOctober 11, 2011 at 8:11 PM

    Thank you!  I'm glad you liked it!  Seriously, one of mine trained in two days, and I got a big head.  Then another one of mine has taken two solid years.  And still goes through several pairs of underwear a day.  I have been so horrified by this fact that I haven't even started on my two year old yet.

    It will pass, I promise you.

  4. Shannon@ChickensinMyKitchenOctober 11, 2011 at 8:12 PM

    Thank you!  I really want to encourage other mothers.  I know how tiring it can be!

  5. I am not a mother and don't plan to be one until like ten years from now, but reading this made me want to have children of my own and was the most precious thing ever. I think that every one of your children would love to read this when they are older and feel special, loved, and wanted

  6. Shannon@ChickensinMyKitchenOctober 12, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    Take your time baby girl.  One of the reasons that I am a happy mama now is that I had plenty of fun when I was your age.

  7. How proud we all are of you!  Beautiful words and pictures.

  8. Shannon@ChickensinMyKitchenOctober 12, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    Thank you!

  9. Shannon@ChickensinMyKitchenOctober 16, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    Thanks Kates!

  10. This is such a blessing. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt message. Thank you for reminding me to enjoy my children now for if I do my job well, they will only be here a short while and then I will only get to watch from the distance. This is beautiful.

  11. Shannon@ChickensinMyKitchenOctober 28, 2011 at 8:42 AM

    Thank you Karen!

  12. Quietly wiping a couple of tears and going back to work.