Chad and I had been away for almost a week. The kids seemed thrilled to see us walk through the door, gone-away Mama and Daddy home again with presents and kisses and hugs. We looked through my bags until each little treat for each little child was accounted for, and then we told stories of all of things we had missed, from ballgames to funny things Emerald had said to the art projects their granny had directed during our absence.
At bedtime, I tucked Adelade and Sawyer in as usual, and suddenly, always-sunny Sawyer burst into a torrent of tears. He could hardly speak, he was so overcome by this sudden storm of emotion. What’s wrong? I asked, completely bewildered by the quick change in demeanor. He choked on the words through his sobs. I just don’t want you to ever go away like that again! And with that, he buried his teary face in his pillow and grabbed my hand as if he were never going to let go of it.
While I sat there on the edge of his bed, hand clasped tightly inside his little fingers, I hugged him close and breathed in the soft baby hair that I had once twirled up into a perfect curl on top of his head. And, I felt honored. I felt absolutely privileged to be considered worthy of a flood of tears from this growing boy, who I know in a matter of years will wish that I would just go and leave him alone. But, this night. This night, he wanted to make sure that I knew that happiness is his mama near.
I remember similar experiences with my own mother when I was little. How I would get out of my bed at bedtime just to sit close to her, my ear to her chest, listening to the reassuring sound of her heart beating out its steady rhythm. I wonder how often I annoyed her with my need to be near her. I wonder if she ever sighed like I often do when I am finally sitting still, exhausted, and I hear the sound of little feet heading down the hallway. If she was, she didn’t show it. And, when she welcomed me into her lap, it must’ve been the truest picture of how God’s arms are always open, how He always considers it a joy to bring comfort to His children.
So, when I haven’t been away from my children for a week, when I have been with them every waking minute for weeks at a time, when the pulling and the prodding and needing and the touching have grown a little overwhelming, when I sigh more than I smile, when I just don’t feel that precious privilege that was so real to me on the night of Sawyer’s teary confession, I pray that I would remember that moment. That I would grasp the honor of this calling, and the unequaled opportunity that I have, as my children’s mother, to show them the love of Christ through the teeth flossing and the juice pouring and the simple act of being there.
Sawyer and I sat there for quite awhile that night, while his older sister implored him to stop crying for no reason and his younger sister watched him with curiosity. And, while his tears flowed, I vowed to remember that my role here is so much more than keeping house. It’s so much more than coordinating schedules. What I do here is anchor this boy’s spirit to a lived-out and genuine sacrificial love. What I do here is give my girls a glimpse of what it means to lay down your life for a friend. And, as much I mess up, as much as I fail them and I fail Him, somehow God has seen fit to place me here, as His disciple, making disciples.
I don’t know that I’ll ever get over the night of Sawyer’s teary outburst. In his sweet little boy way, he reminded me of all that I’m called to be in the lives of my children. When the tiredness hits and I feel like I can’t take another step in mothering them, I’m reminded that I can’t do anything without the strength of Christ. So, together, He and I open our arms again. With joy. With great joy.