The Song of Our Children’s Lives

I thought I might actually cry as I watched the San Marco Chamber Orchestra perform Virtuosi di Venezia, a tribute to Antonio Vivaldi. Never in my life have I been so impressed by a live classical music performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

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The experience was heightened by the fact that Edric and I were in Venice. But, my goodness! It was not just the place, it was the musicians. They were absolutely incredible!

What is it about classical music that is so healing to the soul? According to Andrew Pudua, the highest forms of music and art are those which capture the attributes of God.

Being in the hall elevated my appreciation for classical music and made me ask myself, why have I neglected letting my kids listen to it more often?! I mean, I felt like a better and more intelligent person as I was taken on this musical journey from joy to sorrow to fear to triumph. No wonder why they say that classical music boosts IQ!

The Bible tells us, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 NASB)

What kinds of entertainment do we allow into our homes? Does it cause our children to love what is true, honorable, righteous, pure, lovely, reputable, excellent, and praise worthy?

Edric and I try to filter what our children are exposed to. We are discriminating about tv programs, music, and movies and we limit their use of the Internet. It is amazing how much time they have to create, invent, play, and build when tv and Internet are not given as options. I have also noticed that they don’t get bored very often when they aren’t dependent on entertainment and gadgets to stimulate their minds.

The other night, the kids played hide and seek with Edric for nearly 2 hours. On another evening, they wrote a script and performed it for us using their toys and various objects. Last week, we gave the kids white masks we bought in Venice and they put them on and danced in the living room to classical music while wearing different “costumes.”

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These are the evenings I enjoy the most, seeing my children’s delight in the simple things, being together as a family and engaging one another.

Over lunch a few days ago, Elijah said, “I don’t want to grow older. I want to stay a kid.” Edric and I asked him why and he got kind of choked up as he explained, “I don’t want to grow older because it means you will grow older.” It was precious to hear because I knew he wants us all to stay the way we are now. Edric assured him that no matter what, we would be in heaven together, forever.

I suppose I feel the same way Elijah does about the passing of time. Each year, I am thankful that the kids are growing and maturing, but there is also a sorrow about leaving each season of their childhood. And sometimes, I want to permanently stay in a moment because it feels like perfection. I think to myself, could there be anything more wonderful than right now as I watch my children laughing, playing, reveling in our togetherness? Is this what God feels like when we enjoy the blessing of his presence? Does it make him smile like it does me to see my children so at rest and at peace?

Initially, I wrote this entry because I was inspired by the concerto Edric and I watched of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. But somehow it has evolved into a reflection on parenting. Come to think of it, parenting is somehow like the journey Vivaldi’s music took me on. I didn’t want certain parts to end as I sat in that hall. Yet it was the continuity, the heights and depths, the interplay of instruments, the layers and the passing of one feeling to another that made it a masterpiece. When it was over, I had two thoughts…WOW, Lord, that was amazing! and Sigh, that went by so much quicker than I thought it would.

Similarly, there are so many instances when I wish I could freeze-frame my children’s lives. But, I am reminded to be grateful for every part and every stage because that is what makes the experience whole. Someday, I want to be able to say that I was there for all of it, not preferring one part over another or being present at one point and absent at the next. I know I am going to have those two same thoughts when my children are grown up…WOW, Lord, that was amazing! and Sigh, that went by so much quicker than I thought it would.

We never really know how long we will have to love our children. How long is the song of their lives? Who can really know but God, the composer?

Last year, I was very sobered when a friend of mine lost her twin boys shortly after their birth. She had prayed so hard to have children following the birth of her eldest. After a long while she was able to conceive twins, but just six months later, they were born prematurely and survived no more than 17 days. When the first twin died, I called her but didn’t know what to say. I just blurted out, “I’m so sorry.” In response, she said in a gentle, almost unnaturally peaceful way, “Well, God ended his suffering and he is in a better place.”

She went on to explain the series of events surrounding his final moments and the image that most struck me was when she said, “When we knew he was going to go, the doctors gave him to me so I got to hold him before he died in my arms.” I could hardly contain my emotions. Just thirty minutes prior to calling her, Tiana (who was still an infant) had woken up and I had held her in my arms, kissed her, fed her, then put her back down to sleep peacefully. The pain grew in my heart as I thought about how, in almost parallel moments, we had both been holding our babies. I almost felt guilty that I could hold Tiana again, but she would not get to hold her son.

After my friend and I said goodbye over the phone, I sat on the sofa for a while and cried. Even though I reminded myself that God has a purpose for everything, I felt a lot of hurt for my friend. The next day, her other twin died, too.

This tragedy deeply affected me. I was especially convicted to think of all the times when I get impatient with my kids or when I don’t enjoy them enough because I am rushed or harried or busy. And so I wrote this poem as a reminder to appreciate each day that I get to be with them, each day that I get to love them.

I MAY NOT ALWAYS HAVE TODAY

I may not always have today,
To hold you in my arms
To hear your laughter as you play,
Or catch the smiles you pass my way.

I may not always have today,
To linger for a while,
To paint, or read a book or two,
Or pass the time to be with you.

I may not always have today,
To take your little hands,
To teach you how to fly a kite,
Or point to stars on walks at night.

I may not always have today,
But while I have you still,
I’ll thank the Lord for all you are,
Enjoy each moment and each hour. You are God’s gift from up above,
My privilege today, to love.
My privilege TODAY, to love…

May we parent through each season of our children’s lives fully present and aware of the great privilege we have been given by God to love them.

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Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James 1:17 NASB)

Comments

  1. Julie Christie Tan says:

    I love the poem you made.. thanks for this reminder. =)

  2. Hi Joy, I’m so moved to tears by your poem. How I wish I can always be with my kids at home and enjoy their company all the time. I was able to really take care of my eldest when she was young (hands on, had no yaya then) and now she is 17 a college freshman . Today my youngest is only two, I really want to be with her all the time but I can’t, as a wife I also need to help my husband in providing for our family. But I know in my heart that God has also privileged me to become a nurse to take care of the sick and the dieing. That’s why I always look forward for my rest day to spend precious time with my family. Thank you so much Joy for sharing your heart with us. You capture the hearts of mothers. 😉

    • Joy T Mendoza says:

      Thank you, Yjasminne. God can also use you as a nurse to be a blessing to the people you care for. It is a very noble profession. Many people send their children to school but still make it a point to intentionally disciple their kids. That’s the key. Whatever stage you are in with circumstances in your life, see yourself as the primary influence in your children’s lives, let then know how much you love them and like being with them. The more time you are able to spend with them, the more influential you will be in their lives. So maximize whatever time you can give, both you and your husband. 🙂

  3. May I re post your poem on my time line? I’ll put your name after it.

  4. Thank you so much Joy for
    your encouragement… I will.keep that in mind and by God’s grace will apply them in raising our kids 🙂

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The Song of Our Children’s Lives