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.