My kids adore me.
In a smothering kind of way.
Like when most mornings they wake up too early and climb in my bed, then insist on sharing my pillow until our noses touch or I’m shoved to a five-inch strip of mattress.
Or how they beg me twenty, thirty, fifty times a day to pick them up and squeeze them—sometimes both at the same time—and if I delay for more than three seconds, they take it upon themselves to jump and clasp their hands around my neck until somebody is either choking or stumbling off balance to the floor.
And if I try to formulate a thought or carry an adult conversation, my beloved little people interject every half a minute—“Mom, Mom, Mom, Mommy, Mom, Mom, Momma, Mom”—followed by some urgent request to serve them food, play a game, watch them dance, or answer a burning question about dinosaurs or adopted kittens or how to spell “amazing.”
This is all very endearing, of course, until I want to go to the bathroom—alone. Or take a shower, sort the laundry, talk to their father, or just generally live.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling tired or introspective or crabby or bloated, the last thing I feel like doing is hauling a 35-pound sack of potatoes to the sink when I know she’s perfectly capable of walking there herself. Yes, she just wants to hug me, how wonderful, how sweet. But I told her five times to brush her teeth and go potty and put her pajamas on and she’s just procrastinating, can’t you see that, people?! GIVE ME SOME SPAAAAAAAACE!
“But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these,’” (Luke 18:16).
Such as these.
What if I behaved like my kids? If I crawled into the Lord’s lap, just to be near him, to feel secure in his strength and rest—would he shoo me off?
He’d draw me closer.
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young,” (Isaiah 40:11).
I want to be that kind of parent. Don’t you?
Yes, I know, I get it, we’re exhausted, we want some privacy, we’ve had our fill of arms and legs climbing over our communal bodies all day long. Sometimes a mom just yearns for a little physical and mental margin. But the question is—what’s your default? When the kids want a hug or a piggy back ride or your undivided attention, more often than not do you tell them “just a minute” or “not now” or “give your poor mother a break”?
Next time our children lean in for the snuggling, even if it’s a terribly inconvenient moment, what if we chose to squeeze them even tighter? How would that affirm their sense of worth and security?
We are their parents.
Their safe place.
Stuck deep in my memory bank is one particular morning when I was probably 10 or 11 years old and my dad stood at the door to leave for work. I reached up to give him a goodbye kiss and he sighed, annoyed, and said, “You don’t have to kiss me every time I go.”
Now granted, my dad’s workplace was right next door to our house, so he came and went often throughout a day. And he’s human—he was probably tired or distracted that morning just like I often am. I get it now, as a parent. I don’t blame him.
But I do wonder why that memory sticks with me.
I wish it didn’t. Because I remember feeling rejected and embarrassed. Like my dad wanted me to love him less.
I don’t want my kids to feel that way with me.
Dear Lord, what if they already do?
I don’t have it all figured out yet, but I’m determined to start rebuilding my children’s memories. Outside our family doors, the world is all too eager to tear them down at every turn. Let home be the place where our kids are loved unconditionally, with fierce and unmeasured affection. Besides, someday soon my kids will no longer want to sit on my lap or cling to my leg. They’re growing more independent every day, and these years of intense mommy love are fleeting. So I’m going to relish it while it lasts.
Oh, yes, relish it Becky. I think it is the littles that love so big that are God’s gift to us in the parenting. I miss every one of those moments. I miss being loved just like that! Your story warmed my heart – I can hear stories like that over and over! I agree – God loves us perfectly. He never turns away our hugs!
I agree, their unconditional love is most reflective of Jesus. And I want to be more like him… so I must become more like them. 🙂
I like the idea of rewriting my children’s memories, Becky. With two teens on the house, I wonder if it’s too late? Maybe it’s like grace–never too late.
Never too late, Laura. Never too late. 🙂
Hey Becky.. It’s very encouraging and comes to me at an appropriate time. Thanks for reminding me how important I am for my daughter.. Next time Verushka insists on snuggling, I want to squeeze her tighter
Oh, Sonia, it’s SO good to hear from you! We miss you, and we still talk about Verushka often. Hugs to you both!
A friend shared the link to this post on Facebook today and I’ve just spent an hour reading through a dozen more of your posts now! I never (and I mean never) comment on blogs, but your blog is so completely where I am in life right now with 4 kids age 4, 2.5, 2.5, and 1. Thank you for this post (and all your others)! I’m going to be spending the next weeks going through your past ones and implementing these lessons I know I need and my kids need from me. Thank you! God bless!
Thank you so much for reading, Jessica. Your encouragement blesses me today. We’re in this together – and God is with us every step of the way!
Another great reminder Becky! I’m going to embrace the snuggles today 🙂
This is so true and so good, Becky. You are such an insightful writer. I do hope that you get published someday. Your writings are always so personal, practical, humorous and God-focused. You know, I don’t think I savored those moments with my boys when they were small. Now I want to hug “them” all the time and they feel like to give me one revokes their “man card.” Sheesh! And yes, I know this too will pass and hugging their mom won’t be such a big ego-buster someday! ha! But it’s funny how it all flips upside down when they grow and get older. Love your heart, my friend!
Your encouragement is always a highlight of my week, Beth. You must be a life coach or something. 🙂 Hugs to you, my friend!
And I keep forgetting to say, your new profile pic on the blog is a stunner! Beautiful!
Ha ha – thank you! I grabbed a quick headshot last week during our first ever family photo session with my very talented friend Tammy Muller. I usually just get pictures taken of the girls every year, but this time my husband and I decided maybe we ought to get in those pictures for posterity. 🙂
Seriously, Holley’s link up is full of wonderful, encouraging women this morning! There are days I feel this same way. I wonder why that is? Today, I will hug my kids tighter. I will kiss them when they ask. I will stop and love on them. I will not say, “hold on a minute.” Thank you, Becky for reminding me.
You and me both, Jeri! I remind myself often to watch those “hold on a minute” moments. They can really add up. Thank you so much for stopping by from Holley’s place!
Diane McElwain says
I am past this stage of life, but I know it! You can hug and squeeze and give all sorts of attention to your children, but in the end they need to know: You do deserves some space. The world does not revolve around them ( all of the time). It is a hard place to find the balance. This was great–thanks for posting!
So true, Diane! But the world does revolve around Jesus, so I want to be more like him. It’s hard to know exactly what that looks like sometimes. Thank you for your perspective and encouragement from a been-there, done-that mom. Blessings!
I never thought about it like this. I don’t want the times I shoo my kids off of me to be what they remember.
Oh yes, I will. I needed this today. There is so much clinging in my house, so much of the time. But just yesterday when given the choice, my girl chose to go to summer camp over staying home with me. The tide is already starting to turn and I will miss her little arms around my neck.
Kela Nellums says
Oh my how I’ve tried to be more mindful of this!! Especially since my youngest, who is a 9 year old boy, is the most clingy-loving.
I have 3 others still at home that are getting to the point that they don’t NEED me to physically love on them as much.
2 others that are young adults and out on their own (one with a family of her own!!) and I miss those times with them.
This afternoon, as I was lounging on the couch, my youngest was sitting in a chair opposite me. I made the conscience decision to pat the couch for him to come sit beside me. He gladly laid his head in my lap. I played in his hair and we talked about nothing-ness…until it was time for him to go wrestle with his brothers!! haha!
Becky, when I read your words, it is almost like you have heard my heart. So beautiful and relateable and I love it! I am so glad that I found you today. Thank you!
And I’m so glad to have found you as well, Elizabeth. Thank you for reading and sending some encouragement my way. Blessings!
Sarah @ My Joy-Filled Life says
Did I ever need this! I have twin 3 year old boys that I call ‘very needy and clingy.’ They love their mama a lot and want her to do everything for them and with them. I needed this perspective; thank you!
I can relate to that, Sarah! At the end of an exhausting day, it is still good to know how much we’re loved.
Sarah @ My Joy-Filled Life says
I just want to thank you again Becky – this post has really stuck with me over the past couple weeks.
Always love your honest encouraging words 🙂