I saw a meme recently that featured a pair of adorable Steve Madden shoes—the classic black platform sandals that we all owned in the 90’s. (Though, like mine, yours may have been the Payless version.) The text above the photo simply said, “If you owned these shoes, it’s time for a night cream.” I honestly hadn’t thought much about aging or skin care until that point. But suddenly? I found myself on Ulta’s website ordering a fancy serum that promises near-eternal youth for the low, low price of way too many dollars.
A few days ago, the sun hit my husband’s face at just the right angle, and I noticed the beginning of crow’s feet at the edges of his eyes. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. He finally looked over, confused and a little annoyed, to ask why I was staring. I stared because I love him more and more each year. Because I have been blessed with the gift of time. I married a man who laughs so much that his eyes remember. And I get to stick around year after year to bear witness to it all.
I’m not always that sentimental. Time often doesn’t feel like a gift whatsoever. Like when well-meaning strangers tell us to “enjoy every moment” with our demanding, cranky, and overtired toddlers. When your child loses his mind in the middle of Kroger? It feels like time deliberately plots against you as each second drags on painstakingly slow.
We took our two boys to Alabama in May. We had plenty of those this is the longest hour in the history of all hours moments. My youngest is at an awkward age where he’s too young for a bed or pallet on the floor, but a little too big to comfortably sleep in the pack-n-play. He shared a room with his big brother, so they were up too late. They woke throughout the night and rose too early.
At one point, my youngest had a blowout dirty diaper that got all over his clothes and blankets. As my husband and I cleaned that mess, we turned to find my oldest with a nosebleed dripping all over hotel linens and blankets. Unpleasant to put it mildly, I found myself wondering (after two days of pure chaos and rainy beach-ruining plans) if we had made a terrible mistake in even attempting this trip.
My kids clung to me—even more than normal—each day and late into the evening. They were certainly overtired. But I also realized they clung to this precious gift that I failed to embrace. I had no errands to run, laundry to fold, meals to cook, or carpets to vacuum. It wasn’t a typical vacation experience because my husband was working through much of it. However, I still experienced a break from all of my typical day-to-day responsibilities. I was free to hold them as long as they needed (or, to be honest, as long as my bladder would allow). I had been given the gift of undivided time with my kids. And they soaked it up while I gritted my teeth and wished it away.
On our last day, the sun finally showed up to play. My husband took off of work, and we piled the kids and sunscreen up in the car and spent all morning at the beach. We built castles, played in the waves, and hunted for sea shells. We were fully present with each other. That dedicated time for our family? The gift I didn’t know I needed.
It’s the same small respite I can choose to hold on to when I’m stuck in traffic or waiting at a doctor’s office. These things are inconvenient in a busy schedule, but they are also reminders that sometimes you have to slow down. You breathe. You take a moment—because life forces you to pause. Sometimes that pause is exactly what you need.
Can I encourage you to do something this week?
Find the joy in the places where much of the world claims there is only bitterness. Don’t fight the gift of time. Embrace it for what it can offer. Find that silver lining in gray hairs, long checkout lines, and late bedtimes. There is beauty in the day-to-day pause and blessing in many years well-spent with the ones you love. Claim it all as good.