I have three children; a daughter who is 9 and twin boys who are 5. Having kids is an incredible gift, and I can’t imagine life without them. The laughter alone that they bring into our lives creates the kind of joy we can experience even when life isn’t going well. I can’t even describe how their laughter makes me feel other than to say it lightens the load of life, puts a smile on my face, and gives me a little glimpse of eternity.

Being a parent is possibly the hardest job on the planet. Maybe so. Certainly it involves frustrations, heartaches, and exhaustion. It’s a 24/7 calling, and doesn’t end, from what I hear, even once your kids have grown. The responsibility of parenting is enormous. Even the most resilient adult will have their energy, patience, priorities, and wisdom continually tested.

Yet, one of the amazing things about being a parent is the experience of wonder. By this I mean the amazement and delight of watching your kids. Watching them grow, learn, laugh, play, and, to put it simply, be kids, is one of the most profound joys I have come to know.

Children are easily ignored in our culture, often because we regard childhood as a stage on the way to adulthood. In themselves, we think, they have nothing to offer or contribute. In fact, children are very nearly sheer need. Our job is to take care of them until they are independent or, in our minds, completely human. But childhood in itself is insignificant.

If that’s true, then I hardly think I’d experience such joy when just watching my twin boys playing together. Or while playing a game with my daughter. What I love about watching them play is how utterly useless such time is — neither they nor I are accomplishing anything remotely practical. And that’s ok. Not everything we do has to be about completing a task. It can be only about that moment, a moment which is all about relationship, the deepening of intimate connections.

And when it comes to kids, at least in my experience, those moments are also about recognizing the gift of life, and that we needn’t take it all so seriously. Lord help us, we’re often too serious for our own good. That’s why I am grateful for my kids who, when they’re climbing all over me, graciously free me to enjoy them for who they are. They free me for wonder.

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