Every night, before Brian and I go to bed, we go to the tinies’ bedrooms. I tuck them back into their quilts because they always kick their covers off. I pick up Anne’s Blankie and tuck it back beside her. Brian restores Joe’s stuffies to their rightful place. We pick up all of the books that have been taken out and looked at, no doubt after bedtime, by the dim of the nightlight. We brush the hair off their foreheads.
We look at each other in the semi-darkness and clutch our hearts, Brian whispering about how beautiful they are and how he can’t believe that they’re ours sometimes.
I always end up saying something about how they have not changed one single bit since they were babies. I look at them in their beds and it’s like they’re every age they ever were, all at once, still the babies I watched sleep for hours, just to make sure they were still breathing.
When we go to bed, we talk through their days, figuring out where we need to adjust, where we need to let go, where we need to lay it down. We pray for them and try to understand their motivations, their reasons for what they do. We rejoice over every small victory and our hearts break over every disappointment, however small. We get a bit pissed off on their behalf at the kids that were mean to them at the playground or preschool. We see the bigger picture of why and how they do the things that they do.
It doesn’t really matter if it was a good day or a not-so-good day. It doesn’t matter if today was a day when I felt like a good mother – or not. It doesn’t matter if Joe has absolutely no concept of an indoor voice or that Anne practiced my old trick of selective hearing, making me think there is definitely something to karma. It doesn’t matter that they weren’t perfectly behaved little angels (because heaven knows, are any of us?).
It just matters that they’re ours. And we love them so much, we can hardly breathe with gratitude.
|Me and Joe when he slept wherever, whenever as long as we were together.|
Since becoming a parent, I admit that my entire concept of God has changed.
All I see, all I feel, all I read and know comes through this filter: God is a parent, above all else. He describes himself most as Father but the Psalms and Isaiah also speak to his Mother-heart.
If I in my regular-woman self am able to love so deeply and wildly and purely it must only be because he first loved us. It must be that this gift of parenthood, this gift of a selfless Mama-Papa-love, is given from a God who knows and loves and invites us to feel even a small fraction of his love for us.
And if I can love them without condition or expectation, how much more can our Papa love us? If I can love them for who they are – not who I wish them to be – how much more does our Papa embrace who we were created to be? (And why do we all feel like we need to fit some sort of a cookie-cutter image of what following Jesus looks like?)
If we love our children this way, then we, my friends, are also deeply loved, indeed.
At night, I picture God, in his love without condition, standing over us while we sleep, clutching his heart over how beautiful we are, longing for more and better for us, knowing us better than we know ourselves, seeing a bigger picture, longing for a deeper relationship and loving us so much that it takes over the entire story.