At one end of our neighborhood sits the library, close enough I can walk to while pushing my baby and his sister in the double stroller. At the other end sits the elementary school where, before I was a mom, I volunteered, often coming in during the lunch hour to give the teacher a break and sit with the boys who were more interested in being rowdy than eating.
Right there at the school entrance, for months now they’ve been working. Churning up dirt and wreaking mayhem, mostly in the early morning when cars are rushing by on their commute, but often during school pick-up hours, too. A slew of men with hard hats and orange vests intermingling with pig-tailed girls and running boys eager to beat them to the crosswalk.
For weeks I’ve watched those men lay cones, put up barriers, and direct me through the chaos.
It seems they’re getting very little done.
The first rule of foundations is depth — not drudgery.
The machines make noise day after day, and many of the men are working hard in the ditches and trenches they create while more stand by watching and discussing, adjusting plans as needed. Now that school’s out, it seems the mess just gets worse each day as they till the earth, leaving deep furrows in their wake.
I know what I can’t see is merely the beginning of the widened road and safer intersection still to come. Pipes are being replaced and rerouted, and the foundation laid for a more efficient place to cross a busy road.
But it sure does look like a lot of mess right now.
That construction project is a lot like parenting.
My little girl is three. She can dress herself and use “regardless” in a sentence, yet she makes messes like it’s her job. On my other arm is my newborn son, who is rolling over and following his sister with this gaze, taking it all in and planning world domination, I’m sure. This stage with two young ones is so . . . fun. She laughs at my silliness. She’s fascinated by the simplest things, like colanders, medals from my high school athletic days, and her daddy’s flashlights. He grins at me simply because I’m there to pick him up from his nap.
My days look a lot like a messy paragraph of jumbled words and thoughts that don’t quite see completion because wait, mop up the spit-up, time for a diaper change, another, and then it’s time for a snack.
But if I squint for a second, her giggle of delight over a new discovery as we splash in the water table in the yard transports me into the future. I’m sitting in the front row on her wedding day as she smiles up at the man I pray will be like her daddy. I peek at my three-month-old and see not the baby, but the boy leaning over the truck engine next to his daddy.
These years are the foundation for those.
If I’m tempted to see it all as drudgery, what if I flipped my perspective to see it as establishing depth? Weaving the gospel game into our days so she knows that “disobedience” equals “sin” and God’s love is greater than both but also calls her higher?
So I read another story from the Jesus Storybook Bible. I talk to them both as we make dinner together — her on the step stool beside me, him on my hip — of the Father who provides for all our needs. I pray these days are a firm foundation. I groan inwardly at the applesauce tossed over the side of the high chair and remind them they’re wanted and loved.
The construction project came to an end.
Now there’s a roundabout at the entrance to our neighborhood. Regularly I come to a stop before taking my turn around it. Much like these days where the repetitive tasks like laundry, dishes, diapers, and everyday discipleship chase the clock around the hours until bath and bedtime.
The construction project is now complete, and someday the Little Years will be as well, then the School Years, until my parenting journey looks radically different. There is an eternal goal, a heavenly end in sight that puts these days in perspective, where the fruit of my labor will be not even in these tiny disciples I’m raising but in the “well done” of my Heavenly Father.
Hang in there, momma. You’re laying the foundation.
Photography: JenniMarie Photography