Sometimes I Forget to Serve my Children

Sometimes I forget to serve my children.

Sure, I make dinner, and wipe little bottoms, and tidy up messes, and so on and so forth ad infinitum. They are fed, semi-rested, and usually clothed. We snuggle at night and read books over and over and over and over … you get the picture.

But sometimes, when they ask to cut paper, or bake, or whatever giant mess-making activity they’ve schemed up RIGHT AFTER I finished cleaning the kitchen … well.

These days I am deep in the trenches of the everyday hard work of parenting, of doing the same jobs on repeat while the tiny tornadoes whirl through every fresh-cleaned space. With my elbows deep in dishwater for the one grillionth time in a day, it is an intentional, sometimes herculean task to be look up in gratitude for all we’ve been given. To offer my stones of help on a foundation of dirty rabbit cages, never-ending laundry, and ankle deep toys.

I don’t want to start a project. I don’t want to clean anymore. And so, I forget to serve my children, wrapped up in my own frustration and fatigue.

But my ten year old’s love language is quality time, and it usually involves the mess-making activities mentioned above. So this time, by God’s grace, I tamp down on my selfishness and fatigue. It’s a rainy day and we are inches from my patience limit colliding forcefully with energetic housebound kids. We retrieve the salt, the flour, and the cream of tartar and proceed to color and flour my entire kitchen as we whip up a batch of scented play dough.

And the mess. It’s big. Gargantuan, in fact. But so are their smiles. My neighbor gave us a bucket overflowing with play dough toys and they are strewn around the table, intermingled with the joyful screeches of a two and four year old wrist deep in play dough.

Afterwards, on my hands and knees wiping flour off of every square inch of inch, and it’s a posture of worship, this bending at the knees. Of gratitude to a Father who would make me for them. Of gratitude for the tiny humans I’m shepherding towards the gospel. My fatigue gives way to gratefulness, and I am renewed by the moments that become extraordinary when I choose to serve.

It’s a posture of true servanthood, beyond the mundane and necessary work of parenting, carving memories of joy and spontaneity out of our ordinary afternoons.

My prayer this week, for myself and for you, is that we would respond to our children with servant hearts, speaking their love language in flour and salt, or books perhaps, or time otherwise spent on our never ending to do lists. That we would be present with them, listening to their chatter and serving their souls.

How do you serve your children? How do you speak their language? I’d love to hear your stories.


P.S. We use this simple play dough recipe.

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