They are growing before my very eyes and yesterday I had a couple of memorable reminders. First, as I was dressing them for church I realized their red corduroy Christmas longalls from last year were 2 inches too short. I had told myself since potty training that I would not buy any more one piece outfits for the boys because they are too difficult for them to undo themselves in the restroom. I was hoping last year's clothes would last a little longer. I reluctantly changed them into a long-sleeve button down big boy shirts with khaki pants and belts. They immediately looked a year (or more) older. Young men indeed.
Because this Sunday's worship service was our annual Lessons and Carols musical program, we decided to take the children to big church rather than the nursery (if only for 10-15 minutes). As I looked at my family sitting there together in the pew, tears streamed down my face. Especially when I noticed P with his hands clasped like a little angel under his chin as if in prayer THE WHOLE TIME. As I looked over at my crew on the pew, it seemed hardly possible we were old enough to be here, in this phase, attending worship together. There is scarcely a trace of baby in my trio. It has been replaced by visions of bright, loving, incredible little people. They converse with me and each other, they are experimenting with humor and they ask deep, thoughtful questions.
As I looked at them I felt as if my heart might burst with emotion: joy, thanksgiving, wistfulness and overwhelming love.
I thought about the link someone sent me Saturday: a father of newborn triplets whose wife died in childbirth last week from cardiac complications. Watching that clip was a slap in the face and an overwhelming reminder of how very differently things could have turned out in the lives of those I love most. What if I had missed this?
As I tuned back in to what was going on in the service, I thought of Mary. She birthed and nursed Jesus. She guided him through his toddler years, through childhood, adolescence. All the while she knew he would leave her arms to do something huge. What plans do you have for my little ones, Lord? Will they hurt, Father?
I felt such a kinship with mothers around the world and throughout the ages. How deep indeed are the waters of a mother's heart! It is our job to raise them up, guide them through life, with the ultimate goal of pushing them out of our nest. Although it is the goal, there is such push and pull in our hearts along the way. We are exhausted, filled with hope and worry--and driven by a love too big for us to understand.
True love is marked by vulnerability.
That's why it had to come in the form of a baby.