“Would you like to wash your hands?”
It was August of 2018 B.C. You know – Before Covid. The question posed to my oldest and I was one that had crossed neither of our minds. And as the mom – I’m the one responsible for that. We had just arrived at her then boyfriends apartment and he had prepared a delicious meal and set a beautiful table. I was impressed. I am guessing in the moments after the question left his mouth he was not so impressed with me. As my daughter and I exchanged sheepish glances I realized that hand washing had not been a non negotiable in our home while raising my three children. They knew how to wash their hands and they would willingly do so if it seemed obvious it was needed. It clearly wasn’t a question that was asked before sitting down at our dinner table. I considered it victory when dinner was made, the table was set and we were all still alive by the time my husband returned home from work. Clean hands? – lets celebrate breathing children and a mom that still has all the hairs on her head.
My hand washing practice or lack of passion for it started when I was a camp counselor and there were few opportunities to wash hands before eating. Both the campers and the counselors would play hard and eat. Play hard some more and eat. Our hands had played tennis and capture the flag, rode horses, dug in the sand in the beach, created crafts all day long. I’m certain there were some kids that did not shower much during their 7 days away from home let alone wash hands before every meal. And as far as I know we are all still alive today.
My children who are now ages 23, 21 and 18 and I were laughing about this account with my now son in law the other day. It lead to other conversations about battles I chose to not fight. Parenting is tricky and making those calls are a challenge. I remember times as a young mom when I was hell bent on getting my children to finish their dinner. Their hands did not need to be clean but apparently their plates did. One instance was at a friends wedding when my oldest was 2 1/2. The reception was full of good food and music and distraction and she would not eat her pork chop. I remember feeling such frustration and actual anger that she wouldn’t eat and I honestly let that steal some of the joy of the moment. Wow – looking back I recognize this was such a waste of both of our lives.
As I sit at this stage of parenting I’m thankful I can laugh. I’m thankful my kids can too. I’m also very aware of the incredible grace of God that has clearly carried us all through. I’m also quite sure that the grace he gave is the grace we all will continue to need. Our journey as a family working to love, encourage, and grow in our faith in Jesus will not end until we all cross the finish line of earthly life and enter eternity with our Savior. My friends further on their parenting journey remind me of this and I’m so grateful for their encouragement and wisdom that tells me to keep entrusting our children to the one that stands with us in the battles we do or do not choose to enter.
I don’t know what hills you will or have chosen to die on with your children, or spouse or friends. There are resources we could all find that would support our way of thinking. I’m not here to debate those issues or suggest THE way to handle hygiene, or hair length, or skirt length our curfews, or screen time, or age one gets a cell phone….
I will point you to the one hill… the one we all need to recognize. The one we spent significant time contemplating just a couple of weeks ago.
The hill that held the cross …
that held that man….
that held our sins.
The hill where the ultimate battle was fought and won and the grace we need in our everyday, wash or no-wash decisions of life was born.
The most important hill ….. the most important battle.
It is done. It is finished. Let us rejoice in that victory today.