All the beds are made, the laundry is done for the day, the children are playing peacefully outside, no one has a cold or a fever, and dinner is in the oven. On these few-and-far-between kinds of days, a young mother may peacefully relax in her recliner.
On ordinary days, one child may whimper with a fever, another take a spill from his bike, and another jump on the still unmade bed, while the dog is rooting in the piles of dirty clothes on the laundry room floor. Early in the day, our schedule flies out the window, and lunch is cheese and crackers with a glass of milk.
Most mothers are familiar with days like these. Perhaps it will help to remember King David's words: "Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them" (Psalm 127:3-5, NIV). On days when Mom is exhausted well before noon, it will help to remember three things.
Children are a blessing from God.
A child is a gift from God, no matter the circumstances of his conception. Every child is an indication that God loves families, and that He has wonderful plans for a new generation. Jesus loved children. "He said to them, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these... And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them'" (Mark 10:14-16, NIV). How long has it been since we've thanked God for blessing us with a healthy and energetic family?
Children need to be loved.
When our children smear paint on our best sheets, or powder their now-naked bodies with white flour, or mix our collection of beads in a bowl, it isn't easy to show that we love them. We know we love our children, but do they know we love them? Telling them we love them with a touch or a hug and kiss helps children know they are loved. Even preteens, who pretend to hate parental affection, need expressions of love; ruffling their hair, patting their backs, smoothing a sweaty forehead are all ways to say, "I love you." Children mature emotionally when their parents' love for them is expressed openly, both in public and in private. Have we touched our children lovingly today?
Children need discipline.
When Mom and Dad are tired at the end of an exhausting day, it is easy to let discipline slide. We tell ourselves, "Well, that wasn't such a bad infraction," or, "I'm too tired to deal with this right now." Putting our own comfort before a child's discipline does our child a disservice. Children know they are loved when we care enough to make them obey the home rules. Protecting young children at a street's crossing helps them understand that we love them. Even mild corporal punishment is not out of line when it is concluded with a hug and words of affirmation (Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 29:15).
When your quiver pulses and shakes, and children spill out of windows and doors, remember God's great gift to you. Hug your quiver full, and teach them to obey. When the quiver is again empty, and the arrows have departed, you'll be glad you did.