If there’s anything that being 40-something has taught me, it’s that time really does go by fast. I never really took that saying seriously until it took me three times as long to scroll for my birth year on those nosey, and honestly a little rude, drop-down boxes.

Truth is, I don’t despise aging like I thought I might. There are some really great things about getting older (none of which include my pants size, hairline, or five attempts to remember my kids’ names until they finally say, ‘MOM!’ when I get to the dog’s name.)

Parenting, however, is probably my favorite part of this season of life. Not that I don’t miss scooping my boys up off the floor and carting them around on my hip or snuggling them at night when they crawl into my bed, but I love how they can just go places with me now.

Church is probably one of my favorite examples, as I always felt like, back in the day, we rolled into that place like wrecking balls with exploding diaper bags and a Bible.

A typical Sunday morning: I had endured two tantrums while getting the little one’s pants on him, fished my car keys out of the toilet and argued with a five year old that even if you dress up the dog, she is not allowed to attend the 9:30 service.

All that aside, I was encouraged when we arrived only four minutes late. We piled into the pew and I was smiling again, ready to worship the Lord. This is optimism at its best, as I should have known that it was there in the sanctuary that the real battle begins, and I am not talking about the one between good and evil (although some mornings I might recant that statement.)

All forty-five pounds of my five-year-old suddenly catapulted off the pew and into my chest, causing purse shrapnel to scatter and creating an awkward pause in the congregation’s Amazing Grace while I gathered gum wrappers and pennies from the middle aisle and quietly retrieved a nylon sock hanging from a sleeping elder’s nose.

In the meantime, something whizzed past my head and it was then that I selflessly jumped into the path of a sippy cup that was headed straight for our preacher’s heart.

While frustration pushed heavily on my brows these mornings as I rubbed them in utter exhaustion, I still trudged my way down that aisle on Sundays. Some Sundays I sat in the nursery aggravated, thinking it would be my last one, but I didn’t stop going.

Someday my children will remember that I dragged them down the aisle, my lips white from holding in my anger with my teeth. Their church family will recall hearing a smack and a wail coming from the room behind the coat closet and that meant one of the Duncan boys was in trouble.

I am not a glutton for punishment nor for punishing, but I will happily say that I no longer have any need for this in church. They sit next to me and listen to the sermon, while Logan doodles on the program or a receipt he found in my purse.

Not that we still don’t have our frustrations, as we run across the churchyard as I throw on my flats on and attempt to make it on time, even though we literally live next door in the parsonage right now. This will probably always be us.

But on the way back over, when we aren’t rushed anymore and our bellies are growling for lunch, we talk about what we gleaned from the service. I see the light in their eyes and we can get deep into it because they are still young, but they are interested and learning — and I praise God for that daily.

For now, I am going to enjoy this stage when I feel like they are happy to be with me, but perhaps they are just making the most of it because they really have no other choice.

Connor is 15-years old and quicker than I want to think about, he will be driving off into the sunset to go to whatever thing he is going to. I can only hope he will continue to acknowledge me and talk to me. Logan is close behind at 12-years old, and I pray he will continue to be the best hugger I have ever known — into teenage-hood and beyond.

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