I’m not sure how it snuck into the car with us–the baby’s fuzzy, orange fox, that is.
It must’ve hitched a ride out of his crib this morning, tiny baby fingers clasped around its soft tale, bouncing down the stairs after his chubby feet. It was probably underfoot during the breakfast rush and trampled by a stampede of children racing out to the car, each determined to get a particular seat first. You know how that goes. Either way, there it was, snuggled with the baby in his car seat.
I’d rather comb through a shrieking toddler’s matted hair with a fork then take five children to a doctor’s appointment by myself, crammed into a stuffy room like sardines, and yet, that’s exactly where we were headed. No one had been sick in months, but the baby was due for a milestone well-visit.
I suffer from equal parts nostalgia and relief as I ponder the time gone by, half of me looking at his smiling, cherub face, haloed by the sweetest ring of strawberry-blond curls, so desperately wishing time would stall. But the toddler years are their own kind of monster, filled with near constant unloading, mess-making, and curiosity-induced naughtiness, so the other half of me praises God that, Lord willing, I will only have to clean up spilled dog water and pry soggy, used toilet paper from his disgustingly satisfied death grip a little while longer.
The whimpering started as we filed down the hallway and into our room. As soon as he laid eyes on the nurse, he broke into a full-blown wail. The last visit ended painfully with three shots in the leg, and somehow, seeing that woman must’ve brought it all back. I guess even at a year old, trauma has a way of searing memories into our subconscious.
Sobbing uncontrollably, he cringed at her touch, hid from measuring tapes, and buried himself as deeply as he could into my shoulder, his face wet with tears as he held his Foxy tight. As I stood there cradling him, my heart broke for the poor guy.
“It’s a good thing we accidently brought Foxy today after all,” my daughter said.
“It sure is.”
Every night when I put the baby to bed, blanketing him with his favorite velvety smooth, striped fleece, I nestle Foxy by his cheek. He turns his head to the side and snuggles him back, eyes fluttering to sleep.
Later, when I check on the kids, I’ll pull the covers back up over them as they peacefully sleep and study their little faces. No matter how rough the day was or in what state of exhausted duress I put them all to bed, I can’t help but smile and love them anew in those moments. Especially the baby, who I usually find uncovered at the opposite end of the crib with his arm flopped around his Foxy, holding him tight.
I realized, amid the pitiful cries of my toddler, that because of Foxy’s consistent presence over the last year and half, he’d become a source of comfort. I’d inadvertently trained my son to associate Foxy with security. And I began to wonder, what is it I cling to every day? What am I drawing close during the wee hours of the night when exhaustion creeps in and I’m longing for some comfort and relief from the struggles of the day?
Honestly, I don’t know if I like the answers which first come to mind…
It would seem that what we cling to today will bring comfort tomorrow. Where we’re consistent today will breed habits tomorrow. Could it really be as simple as what we choose to drag out of bed with us each morning, as we groggily stumble down the stairs? What we hold close in times of worry and fear? What we cling to in the darkness?
What we sow in the shallow trenches of the everyday will produce a harvest in our tomorrows, one that will either sustain us or break us. Sow wisely, friends. Pay attention to the myriad of tiny choices you make in the midst of the mundane: the little decisions that lay the foundation for a life well-lived. It’s easy to get so caught up in the immediacy of the needs right in front of us that we forget to invest in our own heart. Cling to what is good and life-giving today, mamas, and know that time spent renewing your soul is never a waste. It will give you strength tomorrow.
Jacqui Roberts is married to her high school sweetheart and spends most of her days managing chaos as a stay-at-home mother of five. They live in Cleveland and have a thriving ministry around their kitchen table with the youth and homeless in the neighborhood. When she’s not drowning in piles of laundry or dirty dishes, Jacqui writes about meeting God in the mundane moments of everyday life.