I am not exactly sure how old I was. Six? Seven? I know I was younger than eight and older than four. I remember my mom walking toward the door after saying good-night and tucking me in for the night. I remember sitting up in my twin bed in the room I shared with my little sister as I watched her approach the door. As she reached the door frame I couldn’t hold it in any longer and I called out to her with the question that had been burning inside of me for some time. . .
Mommy? I nervously called out. . .Will you always love me?
It’s funny how I remember this moment from my early childhood. As an adult, I look back at that tiny little girl in that bed and wonder what prompted such a question. Knowing that I only ever felt love and acceptance from my family–why would I have been concerned about such a thing?
I’ve thought about this little exchange with my Mom many times throughout the years. Each time I’ve wondered about the little girl. . . but for the first time this evening, I wonder what my Mom thought about my question. Did my question sadden her? Did she let the moment pass quickly as she rushed to get us to bed? Did she wonder what in the world had happened that would make me even think such a thing? Tonight, I looked at it from my Mom’s perspective because, just this evening, I was put in her position.
We have been talking with the kids about the ultrasound we are having tomorrow (today, really since I am writing this the night before) and telling them about how they will get to see the baby in my belly. As far as I knew they were only feeling excitement about looking at the baby on the t.v. screen. This evening the following exchanged occurred:
Me: Are you guys excited about seeing the baby tomorrow?
Charlie: (long pause) I’m scared to see the baby.
Me: Why are you scared, Charlie?
Charlie: (without a pause) Because I’m scared that you are going to love the baby more than me.
It took about .02 seconds for the lump to rise in my throat and the aching to appear in my heart. Oh, my sensitive little guy.
I can’t express enough how often I wish I could get inside of his little head and understand what he’s thinking and feeling. Most of the time, he’s a boy of few words and shares them sparingly. Most of our conversations go something like this:
Me: What did you do in school? Sunday school? Art camp? Bible school? Gran and Gramps house?
Charlie: I don’t know.
End of conversation.
Tonight, this glimpse into his tender little heart caught me by surprise and touched me to my core. More than anything I wanted to reassure him, comfort him, help him to understand the amazing love that a parent has for their child. Each of their children.
I can’t fault him, though. It was not long ago when Charlie was my one and only and I had the same concerns. I remember the anxiety I felt before Chanelle was born and the fear I had that my divided time would negatively affect him. I remember wanting to go backward and wanting to keep things the way they were and resisting the change that Baby #2 would bring. I wanted Charlie to have all of me. How could I possibly love another the way I loved him?
And then she entered our world and I learned the thing that all parents of more than one child understand. . .
I learned that the heart really does expand.
I took a moment and talked with Charlie about how when he was born love for him filled my entire heart. Then I told him that when Chanelle was born my heart grew to twice it’s original size and was able to hold enough love for both of them. Next, I explained to him that when this baby is born the miracle happens again. I told him that my heart would again grow in order to hold the same amount of love for my three beautiful children.
I watched as his face lit up and the little dimples appeared in his cheeks. I watched with relief as he seemed satisfied by my answer and even went on to tell Chad about how our hearts expand with love for new babies. Then he asked if we could have four babies. (Not so much)
I was thinking on my feet and I hope my answers did enough to instill confidence in my everlasting love for him. I spoke the truth, didn’t I? The heart–it truly does expand. A kind of love that is different than anything I experienced before. And while I am always acutely aware of the way I feel about my little ones, I sometimes forget that they are real people with real feelings and real love, fears, hopes and dreams of their own.
Just this weekend I quietly stole away from our backyard and sat across the creek for just a moment. From afar I watched them. . . and I was hit with the gravity of the blessings that fill my life. Oh, how I want them to understand our love and feel secure in who they are. As I sat on that warm rock I was overcome with the love that I tried to describe to Charlie this evening.
I know that there is no way I can make them fully understand the depths of my love for them. Some things we only learn from experience. Sometimes, words just fall short. I hope that one day they will experience the kind of far reaching love that I feel for them when they hold their own little ones and realize that the love between a parent and child is unlike any other love in the world. . . it’s boundless.