I grabbed my socks and shoes and quietly put them on.
I look forward to my morning walks. They are my time to think deeply and pray fervently. When I am at home, prayer seems to get pushed aside for things like diaper changes, filling sippy cups, doing school, making meals, and the million other tasks that fill my day. But when I get outside to walk, it is then that I can—at least for a few minutes—find quiet and resolve and a willing heart.
With my shoes on, I glanced quickly at the clock, hoping there would be time for some real conversation with God before I had to be back to feed the baby. "Ahh—only 6 am—there is an upside to this insomnia and getting up at 3am thing," I thought. As I popped my head into the living room to tell the other early risers that I was heading out, my seven-year-old in his space jammies looked at me expectantly and said, "Can I come?"
After a moment's hesitation, I looked at his sweet face and said, "Sure, buddy. I'd love for you to come."
I knew there would be no time for praying. There would be no time for deep soul-searching. There would be no time to gather my thoughts before another busy day. But I said yes. I said yes because I know that these moments are fleeting. There will come a day (hopefully far from now!) when my son doesn't want to be up at six in the morning and to go on a walk with his mom. There will come a day when his most burning thoughts and questions won't immediately spill out onto me—mom. There will come a day when holding my hand and talking about everything he sees won't be the highlight of his day. But that time isn't now, and so I said yes.
Twenty minutes of straight listening—listening to his thoughts on everything from the way people build houses to how much he loves our dog to his heart-felt thoughts about Curious George. I got all of him. And he got all of me.
I am glad I said yes. I am glad I said yes to my son, to a walk, to him. This isn't the first time I have said yes and been so thankful later...
... a quick shopping trip that doubled in length because a sweet little three-year-old wanted to help Mommy.
... a later-than-hoped-for bedtime because a beautiful eight-year-old wanted to read another chapter with me.
... an afternoon of work set aside because a five-year-old who speaks the love language of "Quality Time" wanted to play a game.
... emails that went unanswered because a baby wanted to sit on my lap, play with my necklace and make faces at me.
As parents, we need to say yes. We need to say it often. We need to say it even when we don't want to, when it is inconvenient, and when there are other important things to do. When we say yes to our children's requests, we are saying yes to them as a person. We are saying, "I value your help. I value your company. I enjoy our time together. I love to be with you. You are more important to me than the dishes, the bills, or my time alone."
There is a time to say yes.
My son and I rounded the last corner of our walk and he said with relief, "I'm glad we're home! I'm tired!" Then I gave him a kiss, thanked him for joining me, and told him that I was going to take one more lap and that I would be home in a bit. And then, as I walked in silence, I got the prayer time I desired. A prayer time in which I thanked God for the gift of my children and the time He presents me with every day to say "Yes!" to them.