They’re growing while we aren’t looking.
I was sitting, tucked in the midst of my yarn while stealing a few moments to enjoy creating with my hands in the relative quiet, when his small head appeared. His little hand rested on my knee. “Mama, can I sit wif’ you right now?”
I knew only a moment of pause as I resisted giving up my handwork (and quiet) so soon. But as I looked into his big, hopeful, needing eyes, the moment passed quickly. I set my work aside in the basket by my chair and pulled his tiny frame onto my lap and began to rock. He nestled in against me and burrowed his head under my chin.
“I wuv you and Daddy and I’m your baby.” It was definitely more a moment of centering for him than a declaration of his affection. He needed to remind himself of his place. He needed assurance that I still accepted him as such. He needed to know that even though my hands are often busy, I still have room for him. And so we rocked, while I assured him that Daddy and I loved him, too, and that even when he was big, he’d still be our baby.
“But I’m not getting big. I’m staying little so I can sit on your lap.” He said it with such resolve I was tempted to believe him.
Instead I reminded him of his boots that had just gotten a little bigger to accommodate his feet. And the overalls he could no longer wear because his legs had stretched out so much. He was still small but he was also growing. He smiled a little as I poked a finger in his tummy and teased him that I needed to stop feeding him such healthy foods so he’d stop growing so fast. But then he grew serious again and repeated that he wasn’t going to get bigger. “Micah and Nik and Alex and Hannah and Abby can’t sit on your lap anymore.” He resolutely snuggled in a little closer.
I didn’t answer right away. Because he was right. They don’t. And the truth is, it happens without us realizing it. One day they’re tucked up, all long-legged and spindly-armed, on your lap and you laugh because they barely fit. But you don’t realize it’s the last time it’ll happen. There’s no marker that announces growing things like the last sitting on the lap, or holding of the hand, or bedtime story, or even the last errant request for water when they’re supposed to be nestled bigaway in bed. There’s no way of knowing when the lasts are going to happen and so we miss them without even realizing.
It’s kind of good, though, because the knowing hurts a little.
I sat there while we rocked and I thought about my older kids. I admit my eyes stung with tears even as I tried to deny them so as not to spoil the sweet moment with my very last child. But as I thought, I realized even my big kids still need my “lap”. They’re growing in more ways than one, but they still come for advice, or encouragement, or help when the newest new life stage has them confused. They still come when they’re sick, or sad, or confused. They still come to be fed, or hugged, or even corrected.
But I realized something else, too. I realized our relationships with God are almost in reverse of our relationships with our parents.
Because we come into this world totally and utterly dependant on the human hands that raise us. Of course, we’re ultimately dependent on God, but we don’t know that at first. We look to our parents for everything and it’s their job to steadily teach us to transfer that dependence to God. We grow out of their laps as we grow into His.
Our knowledge of Him increases as does our love for who He is. And as we answer the call into His open arms, we find our way home. My older kids aren’t leaving me behind as their experience changes. They’re simply growing and finding the Father who has waited patiently to be reunited with each of His children.
They’re going from my lap to His.
And so that’s what I told my little boy. I squeezed him and pressed a soft kiss to his head and told him that when his body grew so he no longer fit on my lap, He’d still be just the right size to fit on the lap of Jesus. He looked serious for a moment and then asked, “But what does He look like?”.
I smiled and told him that I couldn’t wait to find out, either. To which he responded…
“I ‘fink He looks like Daddy, but prob’ly He has hair.”
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