It was the mid 80’s and we were spending another year vacationing on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with our growing family. Benny decided to set aside his daily naps to spend time making memories with each of our children. One by one, he took them out for lunch and to get ice cream, buy a T shirt or ride go karts.
With each passing year they started anticipating their time out with Dad. But they were kids. Did they look forward to it just because being the only kid meant getting a bigger dessert or an extra go kart ride? Would they someday realize that memories really were being made or would their own fading memories result in forgetting Dad’s Day Out?
Last week we were on our annual vacation at the beach. (My People, as I fondly call them, are pictured here.) Early in the week I was sitting under the beach canopy when I heard my two oldest grandsons, 7-year-olds JJ and Wyatt, interacting over their afternoon plans. JJ excitedly told Wyatt he was going out with Daddy on his motorcycle for lunch. “Really? I’m going out with my parents, too!” Wyatt responded.
Before I knew it my eyes were filling with tears. The kids did appreciate their times out with Dad! And now a new generation is benefitting from parents skipping their well-deserved beach naps to make memories with their kids.
Sometimes we parents wonder if our kids notice. Do they notice that we pray for them when we tuck them in each night? Stay up late to help them with a school assignment? Go without clothes or shoes so we can spend the money on them? Rave over their scribbled Sunday School pictures as if they’re works of art? Skip a nap to say “I love you?”
As a mother, I sometimes feel unappreciated for the sacrifices motherhood continues to place on me even though my youngest is nearly 18. I still don’t buy myself things so I can bless them, pray for them most nights, skip sleep to babysit the little ones or help with homework, and rave over their accomplishments. The fact is, parenting is hard and often thankless work with delayed benefits.
But when we get a glimpse of those benefits, it can take our breath away.
On the beach that day I got to see the fruit of Benny’s sacrifices. I saw the same glimmer of excitement in the eyes of two little boys that I saw in their parents eyes decades ago. Each day little people talked about it being their day out, then came back to chatter about what they had for lunch or show off their new T shirt.
Are you a parent who wonders if the sacrifices you are making mean much to your kids? Do you find yourself longing for some indication that you’re efforts appreciated?
Sometimes thanks comes in ways we can’t anticipate. Last week Benny received a great big “Thanks, Dad” without anyone saying a word to him.
Delayed parental fruit can sometimes be more sweet than immediate gratitude. If you are struggling with wondering if your sacrifices are even noticed by your kids, be patient. Your willingness to go without sleep or clothes or gratitude is making you like the One who sacrificed His very life so you could have a relationship with Him. The daily choices you are making are noticed by Him…and will produce fruit that you can’t yet see.
Someday your kids will thank you. Just maybe without words.
And take it from a Granma of eleven…future generations will be blessed by your every sacrifice. So keep laying down your life. Someday the fruit will take your breath away.