One of the sweetest moments in parenthood involves the times you lift your child off the couch, or out of the carseat, or off your lap at the drive-in where the little guy has fallen asleep, and carry them to bed. Their heads are heavy with sleep, their scalps smell sweaty and wonderful, and their bodies rest against you in a dependence made all the sweeter as you think of how brief this period in your life is. You lay them in clean sheets and soft covers and they settle in with a sigh. Their body is relaxed, their skin is perfect; your arms are empty again.
In this simple act of caretaking you realize you are so much larger, have so much power and are responsible for all those Big Scary Adult things to be taken care of – bills to pay, meals to cook, illness to heal and console through. Yet in their limited understanding of the world you know they are missing a truth you feel in your bones: within them resides so much more strength and a boundless energy that will continue to bloom and swell even as, in time, your physical body begins to fail. They are unstoppable and massive, lovely and amazing, even as they rely on you for every aspect of their care.
Today was a good day with my children; I cared for them and I played with them and I reveled in how much I like them. My son I like today because he takes care of himself so well; he is bold and adventurous and takes the initiative on what he wants (as he did earlier today, by standing up on the chair at the dining room table and drinking a fellow Mama’s glass of water without spilling a drop). My daughter I like because she can tell me her feelings and because she and I treat one another like adults, in many ways. She also is a courageous soul – going to preschool this week even though she’s been having a tough time (painful heel blisters, black eyes, nap transitions, and emotional breakdowns to name a few) in recent days.
Thank you, Lord, for my children.