At 5am the sweet whine of my son’s voice echoed across the monitor. I crawled out of bed, moaned with disgust, put on my robe and stumbled down the hall like I do every morning about this time. He was standing there, blankie in his mouth, waiting on me like he has every night for over a year. I took him to the comfy chair in his room to get his milk and snuggle him back to sleep. Usually once his belly is full again he mutters a short “beh” and reaches for his crib. Tonight he fell asleep wrapped in my arms. Usually that’s my cue to place him back in bed, stumble back down the hall, curl into my now chilly bed, and ease back into sleep. But tonight, I couldn’t do it. My arms wouldn’t let go. My eyes were locked in. His little body fit just perfectly around mine. His head tucked tightly in the nook of my arm.
Maybe it’s the thought of the little boy close to his age that left this world suddenly last week. Possibly it’s the memory of my sweet friend’s little angels that she held for just a moment this year. But this morning, it was strikingly clear that the gift of his cuddles, the blessing of his healthy body, the warmth of his innocence are fleeting, precious moments that I take for granted frequently throughout my day. So I held him. My exhausted soul was stirred by the reality of his fragile life and the thought of mine without him. My heart was saddened by how little control I have and the suffering that’s inevitable in his life. Yet my soul found peace in knowing His Creator loves him more than I could imagine and has plans that are only for his good, and mine as well. So I held him longer. I brushed his hair from his face as he giggled in his sleep. I ran my aging fingers across his smooth, plump cheeks. I timed my breathing with his. And we rested together in that moment as I was somehow tangibly aware that it could be my last.
Most nights I bemoan the fact that I haven’t slept through the night in over a year. I pray as I put him to bed, asking God to please let him sleep all night, just this once. I get frustrated throughout the day as he begs for my attention when I’m working or screams with joy at the dinner table. But tonight I embraced my little boy like it was our last moment together and held back tears as I placed him back in his bed, knowing one day I’ll regret ever having let him go.
Moms and dads, as you enter the chaos of your day and fall into your routine or lack there of, I pray that God steals a moment in time to fixate your soul on the fragile, innocent life before you. I pray you become painfully aware of the uncertainty of your days together. Then I pray you stop what you’re doing and give every ounce of yourself to your child, embracing them like it will be your last. Breathe the moment in deep, staining your heart with the memory of their presence. Then let go, finding peace in the difficult reality that they are God’s child, not yours, and His plans are greater.
But be comforted in knowing that your Father knows your sorrows all to well. He had only one Son whom He willingly, yet sorrowfully, sent to a broken world to live a perfect life, although not without temptations and heartache. He intentionally offered Him up as a sacrifice to suffer an excruciating death so that we may be seen as righteous in God’s eyes and receive the gift of eternal life. He gave HIS Son so that even after these fleeting moments on this earth have passed, you may one day embrace YOURS again. So as we hold our little ones during this Advent season, anticipating the celebration of the birth of our Savior, I pray as moms and dads we feel a tangible connection to the Lord of the universe that knows the joy of welcoming a Child, the difficulty of letting Him go, and the searing pain of watching Him suffer in this life. And He did it all for you because he loves you more deeply and fully than you’ll ever know.