The littlest one curls up in my lap with her frayed and tattered "bobby", that blanket she's had since birth, and lays her head back on my chest and giggles. She is always giggling, even when nothing is funny...
maybe that's how it should be.
The other one who is quickly growing into those long legs and who has all that thick, long, dark hair that she still doesn't always remember to comb, she snuggles into her daddy...and I just stare, a little awed.
How is it that all this is mine?
But, then, it isn't really "mine" is it? Maybe, realizing that it isn't really mine is the point. Maybe it really is all a loan, a gift from Heave to have for a time, a season. Fear is always creeping up, always trying to steal a breath with the "what-ifs". What if one gets hurt? What if I lose one?
Do mother's just have this constant sense of impending doom?
Maybe it isn't doom we sense, maybe it is those strings tethered from our hearts to theirs...and maybe it's more of a wondering if we could keep living if the strings were cut. How would we keep living?
Pictures are popping up everywhere of toothy grins encased in caps and gowns. So much hope, life, joy. You can see it there on those faces, even if you don't know them well, you see the anticipation in their eyes. It is that time of year, I guess, when mama's and papa's watch those strings attached to their hearts stretch a little tighter as their little chicks fly the nest. It feels like forever away for me and yet, as I sit there staring at my chicks, wondering how they grew this quickly, that feeling shifts and it seems like I only have a couple hours left with them...just a few hours until I have to push them out of the nest and watch them fly.
The oldest one with all that wild hair and round eyes, she looks up at her daddy and asks the question weighing on her little heart...
"How do you know you should believe in God?"
The strings tethering my heart to hers pull a little tighter with that question. They pull tight because I remember right then that I can't believe for her, that as full as my heart is of her...I can't save her. I can only shine my own light on the path ahead, point my finger in the right direction. Daddy gently answers with another question and the discussion lays itself out with more questions and little discoveries.
That's what this mothering thing is, I guess. It's discovering that nothing is what I thought it was and that I am more than I ever imagined, and it's helping those little chicks discover the light. The little one is still giggly and squirmy, but she sits up straight and asks her question. "Where did God come from, anyway?!"
Maybe that's the hard part; letting them discover it on their own. Yes, I think that is the hard part, and I wonder...is this how my God feels about me? Do those strings tethering my heart to his pull a little tighter when I ask my questions? Is it hard for him to let me discover on my own, to let me stumble around and find the light when He already knows?
It must be.
Just like that mom watching her little chick fly the nest, those strings pulling so tight she wonders if they will snap, that must be how He feels. Just like me, sitting there with my little chicks, listening to them ask their questions and wanting so much for them to discover the truth...
that must be how He feels.
This parenting thing is hard, heart work. No one said it would be easy, but no one can really prepare you for it. You just dive in, heart first...and you pray, you discover as much as them...more than them, maybe. You learn to be brave, courageous even, and you learn to hold on to what really matters, but you also learn how to let go. You learn the breathing heartbeat of grace because forgiveness becomes the center of your life....because you see how much you don't know, how weak you really are.
Yes, this parenting thing is hard, heart work.
And God knows. I only feel a fraction of what he feels for me, for you, what we feel for our little chicks. What I realize, and what gives me a deep settling of peace is that all those strings tethering us to them and them to us...all those strings are actually all tethered to Him.
Tethered to Him.
So maybe the strings can't really ever be cut, maybe that fear is unwarranted. Maybe, as long as it is all tethered to Him, the heartstrings last forever. Those chicks, whether they are little, learning how to eat and fly and live, or whether you are pushing them from your nest...really, they've always been a loan, a gift. They were never meant to stay in our nest, just sent to us so we could teach them to fly. And, when we teach them to fly, the beautiful surprise is that we then get to fly with them...together.
Straight into the heart of God...
where we are tethered...