IdaMae looked up from weeding her vegetables at the ruckus in the neighboring yard. The dogs were barking, the twins were running, and a harried mother was trying to corral them all. With a twinkle in her eye, she strolled over to the fence to observe.
“Looks like you have your hands full, Sara.” IdaMae called out to her plump, pink-cheeked neighbor.
“I’m sorry if we’ve disturbed you, IdaMae.” Sara said as she waddled to the fence and leaned heavily on it.
“You didn’t...just reminds of me of raisin’ my own kids. How’re you feeling? Everything OK with the baby?”
“I’m fine, baby’s fine. But my house is a disaster. The kids have had a cold all week and I’ve kept them inside. As you can see, they’re feeling better.” Sara chuckled.
“Can I help?” IdaMae offered.
“Thanks, but no. I just need some quiet time to create some order and clear my brain.” Sara answered with a sigh. “You can give me some advice, though. You raised a big family, right?”
“With the twins being four now and a new baby on the way, how do I do all this–keep the house clean, do the meals and laundry, all that. How do I prioritize?”
IdaMae reached over the fence to hug her tired, young neighbor. “The best advice I can give you is to love ‘em while you got ‘em. They’re gone before you know it, Sara. As tired as you are right now, this is the best time to teach them. You have their ears and eyes and hearts now more than you ever will again. Teach them that Jesus loves them and to love Him right back, teach them right from wrong and to respect and love other people. Just kiss their faces, tell them you love them, and spend time with them. They grow so fast. There will always be dirty dishes and laundry, Sara. But your children will only be small once. Learn to accept help for those other things.”
“Thanks, IdaMae. I know you’re right. It just gets overwhelming sometimes.”
“Now, Sara, if you’d been cooped up all week being sick, what would you want to do?”
“I’d want to play outside.” Sara laughed.
“That’s right. And I just happen to have a fresh batch of cookies and some lemonade that could go to the park with a couple of frisky fellas and a tired mama. How about that?”
“Thank you, IdaMae. I’m going to take your offer.” Sara smiled broadly.
Within a few minutes, IdaMae was handing a bag of good smelling cookies and a thermos of lemonade to Sara as she drove away with an excited carload of kids and dogs. A pile of toys and a book for Sara lay on the seat next to her. IdaMae waved and turned back to her porch.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a small creature dart behind the house. “Don’t you dare get into my petunias again!” And the chase was on. One hyperactive terrier had swooped into IdaMae’s yard with every intention of digging in the flower garden. However, IdaMae was prepared...she had a cookie in her pocket. With a little enticement, she had a firm grasp on the intruder’s collar. One phone call later and a very apologetic neighbor came immediately to fetch the pest.
“IdaMae, I am so sorry!” Janet said as she tried to control the little dog.
“You look exhausted.” IdaMae observed. “Come...sit a spell and have some lemonade. What’s been happening lately?”
Janet went into a lengthy explanation of how her mother had fallen and broken a hip. She just couldn’t live alone anymore. Janet and her husband, Jim, had made a bedroom for her at their home. And at the same time, Jim’s father was admitted to a nursing home. Caring for their elderly parents was overwhelming at times.
“You took care of your mother until she passed away, didn’t you, IdaMae? What advice can you give me?”
With compassion in her eyes, IdaMae answered: “Well, you learn to accept help where you can find it. Remind them that Jesus loves them and you do, too. Hug them, respect them, spend time with them, and let them know they’re valuable. But, the best advice I can give you is to love ‘em while you got ‘em. They’re gone before you know it.”
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