Before and after this, there are accomplishments. Awards. Degrees. Tests passed. Jobs offered. Promotions given. Papers published. Goals reached. Mine for the taking, and keeping.
But in this strange, sweet stretch of my life there is no credit for my work. There is no public praise. My efforts are sometimes rewarded with hugs from tiny arms. "I love you"s spoken in sweet baby breath. The laughter of little boys. But these treasures are gone like a mist the instant they appear. Poof. No proof. I cannot hold on. Hard as I try, I cannot pile them up and keep them.
Every day I write an epic story in disappearing ink. Holding. Feeding. Cleaning, diapering and dressing. Encouraging. Drying tears. Instructing. Teaching. Prodding. Planning. Thinking ahead. Anticipating their needs. Teaching them to anticipate their needs. Reading. Pretending. Imagining. Comforting. And feeding and washing and dressing again. When I do my job well, all that's left at the end of the day is two little boys clean, fed, and tucked safely into bed. The work, and their growth, is unseen by everyone but the Lord. It all falls away. The only thing that remains is them and their precious hearts. And the next day we begin again.
To the casual (ignorant) observer I am losing years, and one day will have nothing to show for this time I spent at home "just raising kids". There will be a yawning gap in my resume and a noticeable lag in my professional skills. Sometimes I worry that playing in the yard or cuddling on the couch, or reading the same book for the fiftieth time is not the best use of my time. And by my old selfish standards it isn't. But it's the best use of their time and reminding myself of that soothes my pride and calms my worries. For the first time in my life I work purely for the good of someone besides myself. Only the Lord is here to witness my work. But He will hold on to them. He will keep them. This is no accomplishment. This is the care of souls.