These encroaching days and fleeting years

“Yes; but where is his mother to get time in these encroaching days to put Henry under special treatment? She has other children and other duties, and simply cannot give herself up for a month or a week to one child. If the boy were ill, in danger, would she find time for him then? Would not other duties go to the wall, and leave her little son, for the time, her chief object in life? Now here is a point all parents are not enough awake to — that serious mental and moral ailments require prompt, purposeful, curative treatment, to which the parents must devote themselves for a short time, just as they would to a sick child.”

- Charlotte Mason


“Don’t worry,” the doctor said reassuringly as I re-dressed Dylan, “six months from now, this season will seem like a distant memory.”

Just a few days after a weeklong bout with RSV and a draining six day stay in the hospital, I had dropped my guard and let Eli cuddle his little brother with a few hugs and kisses.  A few hours later, Eli’s nose started to run and his sneezes began to pepper the air.  Not surprisingly, within a day or two, Dylan’s congestion began to flare up again too.  In the past, I would have taken it day by day, but now, fresh with a new education in how bad a cold can be for babies, I suddenly found myself anxiously checking Dylan’s breathing rate and wondering if he was starting to wheeze again.  By that Friday, I had taken him once again to our pediatrician just to make sure his oxygen levels were okay.  Thankfully, they were.

The doctor cautioned me that I really needed to be careful with Dylan for awhile, not only to keep him from infecting other kids, but also to give his lungs a chance to heal completely.  He also recommended albuterol breathing treatments with the nebulizer they had given us at the hospital.  In the past this would have seemed like more than I could manage with an already busy day of keeping up with a toddler and an infant, but having experienced what inconvenience and discomfort could really look like when your baby was hooked up to so many wires and suctioned till his nose bled, it suddenly seemed light in comparison.

This picture was vivid in my mind, then, when I read the excerpt above from a British educator Charlotte Mason who was writing about the importance of habit training in young children.  Eli is growing by leaps and bounds, not just physically or mentally, but also spiritually and emotionally.  It is too easy sometimes to focus only on how well he’s learning his ABC’s or the names of animals, and not whether he’s learning habits that will set the course for not only his future but for how he treats others as well.

But this quote reminded me of how important it is to take advantage of these fleeting years I have with him and his brother, even when the days feel encroaching.  Even if it means dropping a lot of commitments in order to focus on building good habits, I need to make the sacrifice just like I dropped practically everything for Dylan.

I’ve been quite convicted myself lately as I’ve read some of Mason’s writings on the importance of good habits in different areas of our life.  I still have yet to get to a place where I can get up ahead of my boys in the morning, largely because we’re still ironing out Dylan’s sleeping through the night and I want to squeeze every minute of sleep I can out of the time when both boys are asleep.  But I am trying in other areas to get a little more organized here and there.  It’s a fine line sometimes between wanting to be “real” and “refined,” i.e. being okay with where I’m at and yet at the same time to challenge myself to drop the habits of life that hinder myself and others.

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