I am sitting in the rocking chair, swaying back and forth as I rock the baby to sleep. Muffled voices float out of the boys’ room as Daddy reads them a story about wild creatures that live far away. The boys are enjoying the company of their father. They giggle and interrupt excitedly with their own stories.
As I rock, I realize that they haven’t been to the bathroom yet to brush their teeth. I inhale sharply, ready to call out and remind Daddy not to forget this essential step, one of the most telling proofs of my mothering skills. I stop, interrupting myself with the intention of waiting until story time is done.
I drift in my own thoughts for a few minutes until I realize that the conversation in the other room has changed its tone. Story time is over and Daddy is tucking the boys into bed. I realize I should remind him now to brush their teeth. He must NOT forget. The urgency causes my heart’s pace to increase slightly, and again the quick intake of breath in preparation to raise my voice and remind him. I stop suddenly, and listen. It is much quieter in the room now. No giggles, no silly requests for water or snacks or toys.
Just one voice. One little voice. The little voice is listing what he is thankful for. He is thankful that God made dogs and pigs and elephants and longneck dinosaurs. His thankful that God took care of him today and that his friends came over to play. Then I hear another voice, and other stronger, deeper voice talking to God. Daddy is praying over his boys, thankful for dinosaurs too, knowing that he is honouring his Heavenly Father by praying with our children, by teaching them to approach God with reverence and with confidence, by showing them with his actions what a God of Love looks like, and by loving Father God with his own life.
Daddy is teaching them about God every second of every day, but right now he is doing it with words.
The urge to correct him, to remind him that I’m a good mom that keeps track of teeth-brushing remains. I must actively fight it to keep my mouth shut. Slowly it ebbs, and I hear a quiet “Well done”, as I relax into the thought that what went on in that bedroom has far longer lasting benefits than does the act of brushing one’s teeth.
Because teeth last a lifetime, if they are cared for. But a soul — it lasts for eternity, whether it is cared for or not.