Lessons from a Yellow Slip 'n Slide
"The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more." Psalm 103:15-16 (NIV)
My 2-year-old daughter had drunk enough water from the hose that her little belly looked like a watermelon. Her twin brother wore only a bloated diaper. My eldest, 3 years old, struggled to keep her bathing suit on.
The liquid dish soap I added to the water made the Slip ’N Slide like a rocket. Their little bodies flew as they squealed in delight. I was having a blast until the car drove up. Three church ladies wearing dresses stepped out of the car. I recognized them from the new church we’d visited the week before.
I immediately wished I could whisk a wand so we’d all be invisible. What would they think of my mostly naked child with her watermelon belly? Or my son with his 5-pound diaper? What did I look like with my hair half-dry, the other half wet and sticky from the soap solution?
The women walked to the fence and greeted me. "Can we come in?" one asked.
That’s when real panic set in. Until that moment our day had been almost perfect, but my home? It was far from perfect! Laundry was piled in a basket on the kitchen table. Toys cluttered the living room. As a mom of three toddlers, I worked hard but cleaning my small house was like mowing the grass only to come out five minutes later and discover it had grown eight inches.
When the women stepped inside, I saw it through their eyes and I began to wrestle with comparison.
Surely, I thought to myself, other moms with three children under age 4 were able to keep a spotless home, fold their laundry as it came out of the dryer and organize toys so you didn’t step on them.
Surely there were other moms who had a roast — no, strike that because maybe red meat isn’t the healthiest option — a chicken and fresh vegetables roasting for dinner.
Surely there were other moms with stretch marks who weren’t wearing a swimsuit in the backyard where God and everybody could see.
Sadly, I allowed those thoughts to overshadow the beauty of that day.
Looking back, I wish I hadn’t.
My children are grown now and I’m "Gaga" to six beautiful grandbabies under the age of 5. Today, when my children flock to my house with their kids, car seats, fruit snacks and diaper bags, I want them to know something important.
Sometimes, we act as if we have forever and we put too much emphasis on what others think. Or we get so tangled up in our to-do lists that we forget to enjoy the moment with those we love the most.
Sure, we have tasks to do and they are important, but no more valuable than the sweet pockets of play and silliness. As my grown children gather around the table, they don’t talk about how spotless my kitchen once was (or wasn’t), or how I managed to have it all together. Instead, they laugh as they remember how the dish soap made the Slip ’N Slide so fast, or how mama took an afternoon off from laundry to enjoy the noon sunshine.
Those flashes of time have become precious markers of their childhood that settled as memories. As our key verse reminds us, "The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more" (Psalm 103:15-16).
I know we’re busy, yet today is a good day to laugh with a child. It’s a perfect day to stop comparing ourselves to others. It’s a good time to put down the to-dos for a few minutes and enjoy the moment.
Heavenly Father, I get trapped in busy work that seems so important, and sometimes I forget to just laugh. Slow me down for a few moments today, Lord. Whisper in my heart about the importance of making sweet memories with those I love the most. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ecclesiastes 3:1,4, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: … a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance." (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Sometimes we feel pressure simply because it’s a busy season, but many times we put the pressure on ourselves.
Give yourself permission to slow down and enjoy the moment. Remind yourself that the memories you make are just as valuable as the tasks you perform.