There’s a one-year-old wearing a t-shirt and cloth diaper who’s in my garden, poking green bean seeds exactly where they go. There’s a four-year-old in a sun dress dumping lettuce seeds exactly where they don’t.

And it’s twice as hard, maybe three times as hard, trying to get anything done with a handful of kids, but maybe it’s not about getting something done as it is about giving them my time. And my patience.

I think time and patience are one of the best ways to show love. I wish I could tell you that I remember this more often than I do. But I don’t always. There are moments when I’m just too busy. I truly have too much work to do. And those are the days I kiss their little heads after they’ve long since fallen asleep in their beds and I think to myself, tomorrow. We’ll try again tomorrow. There are only so many tomorrows. 

I hear they grow fast.

I want to make the most of each day with them. I want to crawl on my hands and knees in the grass looking for the tiny bright white BB’s for my son to save in his jar, and make homemade peach frozen bars with three kids crowding around our tiny kitchen counter, all the while ignoring the oatmeal pan that really ought to be washed. But I can never get this moment back. I probably won’t be able to scrub the peach puree off the surfaces of my home either, but that’s a lot less important, I’ve learned.

And when we were out in the garden and my six-year-old told his baby brother “good job!” when, with his little dimpled hands, he stuck a green bean seed into the soil. Then my big guy turned to me and said, “let’s encourage him because he knows what we’re saying.” If the pudgy bare feet in the soil beside me weren’t already melting my heart, my oldest son’s words made me want to remember the moment forever. And take the time to make–and savor–the memories.