Everywhere I turn these days there are tasks begging for completion. Beyond just cleaning crumbs off the floor or washing dishing, there are gifts to buy, cards to mail, class parties to plan. It’s life + the holidays.

It is already hard enough for me to ignore the tasks that keep our house in order, so that I can tend to my children’s souls. The holiday tasks are urgent and time-sensitive, making them even harder to ignore.

Am I available to go look at a fort my boys just built? Or watch them play with the pet hermit crab for 30 minutes? Can I stop what I am doing and just go? Or do I respond with ‘just a minute’?

In 20 years will anyone care if our floor was cleaned or counters wiped. In 20 years will they remember what gift was given or what craft was done at the class Christmas party?

But in less than 20 years my boys will be men. What is really important is that they know I was fully present with them as they grew into manhood?

Sally Clarkson, who has written several wonderful books on mothering, said, “My children are the most important book people will read.”

Of course I start to feel the guilt and insecurities. The lies pour into my head…”I haven’t been available.” “I’ve yelled so much this week over trivial things.” “I care more about if people like their gift I bought than spending time reading to my boys.”

Instead I need to trade my guilt for truth and for change.

Each day. Each hour. I have a chance to chose what is truly important over what is temporary. Sometimes I may make the right choice and sometimes I may forget and get wrapped up in the urgent. 

My goal is that in 20 years I can look back and know that I chose the important more often than I chose the temporary.

My dishes went unwashed today. I didn’t make the bed.

I took his hand and followed where his eager footsteps led.

Oh, yes, we went adventuring, my little son and I…

Explaining all the great outdoors beneath the summer sky.

We waded in the crystal stream, we wandered through the woods.

My kitchen wasn’t swept today, but life was rich and good.

We found a cool, sun-dappled glade, and now my small son knows

How mother bunny hides her nest, where Jack-in-the-pulpit grows.

We watched a robin feed her young, we climbed a sunlit hill…

Saw cloud-sheep scamper through the sky, we plucked a daffodil.

That my house was neglected, that I didn’t brush the stairs,

In twenty years no one on earth will know or even care.

But that I’ve helped my boy to noble manhood grow

In twenty years the whole wide world may look and see and know.

Author Unknown from The Mother’s Topical Bible