I can’t sleep.
I’m not sure if it’s the hormone expressions of a 46 year old woman, the fact that I had to use the bathroom, a text from a friend in the middle of the night asking for prayer, or the fact that my 7 year old son has been sleeping with me for the last week and periodically throughout the night I get a heel in my side or an elbow to the face. We call him a sleeping octopus.
Either way, I just had one of those “Love You Forever,” moments and so now I have been awake since 3:54am.
Parenting isn’t easy.
It’s not the hardest thing, either, but all the books on parenting in the world can’t seem to be specific enough with how to dial it in with your own kid and their unique gifts and DNA. Couple that with your unique quirks and genetic make up, and there just aren’t books on how to do this thing…at least not perfectly, which, of course isn’t the goal, except when you’re trying your best not to totally screw them up…
We are all winging it. Truly, just because you birth a human doesn’t mean you know how to suddenly parent.
It may be instinct to nurture and nourish the tiny human, but what about when they start peeing on trees at the park or borrowing the car or forcing burps at the table or asking for money?
What about weeks when my patience isn’t saintly and I can’t understand whine and or I just want them to do the things, “Because I said so, that’s why!”
That book, Love You Forever, used to be endearing when I read it to my daughter. Then I got a little creeped out, thinking about how the mom couldn’t cut her cord, driving across town to hold her grown son while he slept in his own home away from home. Then I circled back around to the endearing angle, with a grain of salt.
See, I’m fiercely independent. And my mom was independent. And it would seem we have two confident, independent kids…
I was never one who wanted to get pregnant on my wedding night or volunteer in the nursery or toddler room by choice.
I worked with high school and college kids and 20-somethings. I knew how to interact with them.
But I wasn’t anti-having kids, either. Maybe I was 6-in-one, half-dozen in the other.
Either way, even though I had almost doubled my size over the course of 9-months, my first full-term pregnancy was surreal and I felt pretty unprepared, save a newly DIY remodeled kitchen and floors, for the arrival of our first child.
Then, after 18 hours of some intense labor, the doc put our daughter in my hands.
As I looked at her, I heard (a smarter thought than I could have thought of…) loud and clear in my head and heart, “I love her more.”
4 words: “I love her more.”
I cocked my head toward heaven and reminded God of how freaking hard I had just worked delivering her into the world, quite proud of myself, and He said it again, “I love her more.”
As I turned my eyes back to the miraculous little life in my arms, I refocused my gaze on my daughter, God’s creation, with a whole new perspective…
…God loved her more.
He loved me more.
He loves you more.
He loves them more.
He loves my son more.
And this truth seems unfathomable to parents everywhere.
Parents who were once basic humans, also winging it, who suddenly love outside themselves with a love they didn’t even know existed within them, a love that constantly has to rid itself of our own: fear, control, worry, manipulation, demand, angst, selfishness, and all the other human instincts we hate thrown at us, in order to nurture, nourish, and embody God’s original design in another human.
Because God loves them more.
So as I sat in bed praying since 3:54am, praying blessings and freedom and goodness and grace…praying love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control…praying for favor and creativity and healing and laughter and hope and strength and discernment and wisdom and extravagant love, it became obvious to me why a book like, “Love You Forever,” was written…
…it became obvious as I couldn’t help but peer through the darkness to find his sweet little chest, resting my hand on it, feeling the heart beat giving rise and fall to the life of a boy created in the image of God, and soak in the perspective that no matter how much I love him, God loves him more.