I love my little ones... like, I crazy love them.
I walked past my son in the kitchen tonight. He was getting advil because his teeth were hurting pretty bad from his braces. He is almost my height now - and as I pass him, he seems like a man.
He's more like me than like his dad. His hair is fair - and he talks too much and feels so deeply.
I stall him... I ask him about school, about his friends, about his faith... but in moments, his little sister is hissing up the stairs, "Charter! What's taking you so long?"
I should have known she wouldn't be asleep yet...
She peeks up the stairs and sees me. She smiles and climbs into my arms.
Her hair is like silk except for the tiny piece where best friend's mom sewed a feather in it. She still fits under my chin - even though she's tall for nine.
And I know they're tired... they need to go to bed... but I wrap one arm around my boy... and one around his littlest sister. They pull in close - and awkwardly tuck their other arms around their own body.
"No." I whisper insistently... "Each other too..."
And they do.
We're wrapped in a little huddle - just the three of us - and I can't help but burst into prayer.
I get one line in - and we hear a whimpering wail from downstairs... the little brothers have discovered their big siblings are missing.
They laugh - and they break our sacred huddle and tiptoe down the stairs whispering reassurances in sleepy tones.
I feel the emptiness of arms that want to grab hold of those two siblings and make them see the precious thing that they sometimes treat with scorn...
Oh babies... can you see how each of you has been gifted to the others? Do you understand how much these relationships mean? Will you throw them away like trash? Or could it be... that when my arms are laid to rest... it will be in the arms of your brothers and sisters that you will find comfort?
And this mama wants to absorb each hurt that you inflict on each other, because, my precious babies? They're not as big as you imagine them to be.
And this mama wants to reinvent bad habits - I want to make you smile at the one who drives you nuts, compliment the one who makes you jealous, be generous to the one who always seems to take...
But I can't do any of that. Because these relationships aren't mine to orchestrate or manipulate or force... no, these relationships are YOUR gifts.
And so I watch - smiling when you work together, laughing when you play together... crying when I see you making music together... cheering when you stand up for each other, weeping when I see you dancing, worshipping, praying together ... drenched in hope when I see your secret friendships forged with laughter... but then begging mercy for the one who shouldn't have done it - pleading grace for the one who doesn't deserve it...
I know i'm a hot mess as a mama (and wife - and human being)... but the one thing... *the one thing* that I have going for me - is that I don't think it would be possible for any other mama to love you all more than I do - and the best thing that I know to give you - the ones that I love so desperately...
Is each other.
Treat each other well.