When the Little Years are Fleeting and Their Needs Never-Ending

When the Little Years are Fleeting and Their Needs Never-Ending | Faith and Composition

This past weekend my son went to spend some time with my in-laws and his cousins. We sent him two hours away for a few days of bike riding, trampoline antics, little-boy rough housing and the typical adventures that await a weekend at the grandparents.

He left on Friday. But on Saturday afternoon my mother-in-law called to tell me he had a fever. Immediately, I became anxious and worried. My instinct was to hop in the car and go get him. Not because he wasn’t in capable hands—on the contrary, he was probably in the best place he could be apart from our home—but simply because he had a need, and I wasn’t there to meet it.

One of the hardest challenges and yet perhaps one of greatest blessings of being a mother is the basic fact of being needed. When they’re little, our children rely on us for everything; as they age and grow in independence, those needs change and lessen. I have three kids aged five and under, so I’m still in the early years of parenting. And although I’ve watched my almost-six-year-old son grow in his own personal independence, the reality is all of my children are still completely dependent on me and my husband for even their most basic needs. I have little hands tugging on me and little bodies hanging from me at all hours of every day.

Meeting the non-stop demands of these early years is often messy, frantic, chaotic and exhausting. The endless diaper changing, the middle-of-the-night sheet stripping, the frequent nursing, the little messes, the tiny fingerprints smeared on glass surfaces, the endless laundry, the haphazardly strewn toys, tears dried, noses wiped, behavior disciplined, hearts encouraged. This neediness, this constancy of having to be everything for these little people can certainly take its toll. It’s deep-in-the-trenches work with barely a break, and sometimes when we’re in the thick of it, it’s difficult to see beyond the moment.

When the Little Years are Fleeting and Their Needs Never-Ending; Encouragement for Moms | Faith and Composition

But on that weekend when my son got sick and I wasn’t there, I also realized what an immense privilege it is to be needed during this season, because I got a glimpse at how fleeting this time is.

When my mother-in-law called to tell me my son had a fever, she put him on the phone. “Do you want to come home, sweetie?” I asked. “You can just say a simple yes or no. If you want us to come get you, just say yes, and we’ll be there.”

I was certain his resolve would melt, and he’d burst into tears asking for me to come get him, to meet his needs, to bring him home. After all, I’m his mom.

But then he said it, and my heart sank: “No, Mama,” he said. “I don’t want to come home. I really don’t feel bad. I want to stay.

In that moment and with startling clarity I saw him growing up. And I realized his reliance on me to meet his every need is beginning to wane.

Although there are days when the never-ending task of meeting my children’s needs can feel more like a curse than a blessing, I realize that this season is short-lived. These little ones will only be toddling around, napping in my bed, requesting to hold my hand on the potty, crying when I leave … for so long. All too soon they will grow in their independence, cultivate life skills and pursue relationships, callings, families of their own.

It’s so easy to get weighed down by the day to day, to feel like no one sees, to be disheartened by the monotony of daily service to our family. It’s difficult to see the glorious privilege of this calling when dirty diapers, after-dinner dishes, spilled Cheerios and filled-to-the-brim hampers cloud our vision. But then God gives me a moment like He did on that weekend with my son, and I get the blessing of perspective.

When the LWhen the Little Years are Fleeting and Their Needs Never-Ending; Encouragement for Moms | Faith and Compositionittle Years are Fleeting and Their Needs Never-Ending | Faith and Composition

Ten, 20, 30 years from now, when I look back on these days, I will see them through a different lens. The memory of the day-to-day hardships will have faded a bit, and I will remember the blessing of being needed by my children in a way that no one else could satisfy. The chubby-arms-round-the-neck hugs, the I-love-you-to-the-moon sentiments, the little bodies curled asleep beside me, the scribbled crayon drawings adorning the fridge … this is what I will cherish when I reflect upon this season.

So today, I pray that God gives us eyes to see the miraculous in the mess. May we see the glorious rising out of the gritty. May we do the hard work and discover that we are doing holy work. May His grace find us in the midst of the mundane, and may we pour that abundant grace out to our family.


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16 thoughts on “When the Little Years are Fleeting and Their Needs Never-Ending

  1. Selin

    This is soooo beautiful! I smiled, laughed, and cried while reading this post. Thank you, Shalene.

  2. Mommy of 4

    Your posts are fantastic. You bring me to tears every time, and I am not a crier. They strike a chord so pure and true that the raw emotion just overflows. Three of my four children are between 1 1/2 and 4 years old. I have read four or five of your posts and it feels like you know my little world and are speaking to me, encouraging me, and giving me a soothing chuckle now and then, too. My children bring so much joy into my life and I am so blessed by them; that being said, it is so nice to know that other mothers go through the same emotional times that I do. Thank you so very much for being so candid and uplifting. Thank you, God, for our precious children. God is love.

  3. Cassie

    I am going on my first weekend alone trip next weekend and I have had this exact thought. While I am [so] excited to escape the sticky fingers and crying leg pulls, I can’t help but already miss the goodnight hugs, prayers, and even someone screaming “mommy” from across the house.
    Your writing is beautiful and the Lord is using use to speak to so many women’s hearts. Thank you for sharing in this way. Being real and encouraging is a very needed view in the blogging world of “everyones families look so perfect and happy”. I always look forward to your posts.

  4. Ashley

    Beautiful and so true! This is something that has been on my heart lately. I, too, have 3 children ages 5 and under. The days can be long, but the years seem so short. It is a daily struggle sometimes to appreciate this time as the true blessing that it is, but thank God we don’t have to do it alone.
    As coincidence would have it, I recently posted something similar in which I revealed my thoughts and feelings about this very topic. http://thewhitekitchenblog.com/2014/02/17/i-am-not-only/ I, for one, am very grateful that we are not alone in our callings as mothers and that we can gain insight and encouragement from one another. Thank you much for sharing your heart!

  5. Marcia

    I am now on the other side of this, with my youngest away at college and the other two fully fledged and on their own. I homeschooled my 3 sons right through high school, so we spent a lot of precious time together, and I loved (almost) every minute of it. But I can still remember the days when I was so tired of hearing “Mommy! I need…” I wanted to change my name! But those days are both precious and fleeting. Now, I miss feeling needed by my guys. It was with a smile that I received a text from my college son this week with a photo of a bad rash on his foot, asking me what I thought it was and what he should do about it. I’m still needed after all…

  6. Patty

    This was a beautiful reminder of the precious, fleeting gift we have in our children. You have a beautiful way with words, and I’m enjoying your blog so much. Have a great day, and God bless!

  7. Janet

    So beautifully written and a wonderful reminder to step back and look at the big picture. It is so important to make the most of the little moments and big moments. One cannot fit enough “I love yous” into the day.

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  10. Charity Craig (@charitylcraig)

    I love “we will see them through a different lens”. Even memories from a couple of years ago when I was sinking under the chaos and thought it was the end of the world are now fond memories in my mind and I wish I had taken the time to cherish them more. 🙂 Great post.

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  14. Diane

    I am a grandmother…..I appreciate, relate to and LOVE your posts, they are so true to life!
    And I share them with my daughter for affirmation and to be uplifting to her as she raises her daughter. Thank you so much for sharing your writing talents….you express so perfectly what being a Mom is truly all about. God bless!


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