When it comes to TD, the little people act as my sword and shield, jumping in to deflect every request, complaint, and need. Notice I say “deflect,” not fulfill, address, or meet.
“May I have some water?” No, you already had some and it’s almost 9.
“Could you read to me?” Mommy’s working.
“I’m hungry.” You should have finished your pancake sausage dog. (Yes, this is a thing.)
“Can you help me go to sleep?” You’re big enough to put yourself to bed, not depend on Mom.
“Okay if I play on your phone? Where’s yours? If you’d kept up with it…
And so on.
Not only do they deflect his requests, they point out my own parenting shortcomings—when it comes to TD, that is, and relative to their own terrible childhoods.
“I had to be in bed by 7:30.”
“I was doing school on my own by now.”
“I couldn’t watch that much TV.”
“Are you letting him talk back?”
“He never finishes his dinner.”
“We had to brush our teeth before we came downstairs.”
By my estimation, I must have been an over-the-top, overachieving mother then. By theirs, I must be a delinquent, permissive mother now. More than likely, I’m a mixture, unevenly distributing discipline, mercy, humor, snarkiness, a side eye, and a blind eye to all and sundry as I see fit.
Now, if I asked the little people, most would swear “the baby” always has it easiest. As the youngest of three girls myself, I shake my head, “No way, no how.” I bear my own scars. As a mom, I nod a little, “Hmmm…maybe.” I can see how it might look that way.
Yet, they all come bearing gifts. Some get my jokes, giving as sarcastically as they get. Others kill the bugs, take out the trash, and help me post stories to Instagram. One bakes the best chocolate chip cookies; another pops the butteriest, saltiest popcorn; a few eat anything I put on their plate. Some can mind the whole crew, others actually want to, a few are sweet enough to listen, one breaks everything, including the rules.
We have introverts, extroverts, writers, photographers, talkers, brooders, thinkers, givers, athletes, TV watchers, mathematicians, engineers, scientists, debaters, chefs, singers, readers…not that I love them for what they do or don’t do. Even if they simply took up room on my couch and breathed, they’d still be my favorites. Believe me, some do just that. They can get on my last nerve, yet they’re still my favorites. The oldest, the youngest, all the ones in between—they’re all the best and the worst. My favorites. My babies.
Just like I’m God’s favorite. His baby. Along with you unloading the dishwasher, you over there who feels like a red-headed stepchild, you way in the back who takes care of everybody and everything, and you up front who gets all the awards and attention. All of us who wail, whisper, and wonder, It’s not fair. Why me, and not them? and those who hail, whoop, and holler in celebration at the front of the line. We are all His precious children.
And just like my own little people, I’m quick to remind my Abba Father that He’s not treating all His people all the same all the time. Why can’t our house sell as quickly as theirs? Why do I have to stay up until 2 a.m. to get work done while she watches television all day? Why do we have Friday pizza night when they have Friday prime rib night? Why has my publishing journey taken so long?
Because…He’s wiser. Over the years, I’ve realized that running in the house provides more exercise than danger; a “reading day” for the little people means a “writing day” for me; a spotless house means I’ve invested more time on stuff than people. Imagine God’s eternity-long parenting experience. He knows the difference between our needs and wants; when to say no, yes, wait, or nothing at all; and all the whys, wheres, and heretofors. He knows “altogether,” for He has “hedged me behind and before…Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It is high, I cannot attain it.” (Psalm 139: 4-6) Period.
He’s more loving. When I was pregnant, I gave up Mountain Dew, tuna sandwiches, and bicycle rides. I slept on my left side and even suffered through bed rest. I birthed them without medication, nursed them all night, and cooked and clean with my one free arm. I set aside my career, sleep, and going to the bathroom by myself. And the whole while I whined, complained, and fussed about “all I do for them.”
But my Father doesn’t complain, He Who did everything for me. He only reminds me of His constant, generous, sacrificial love. A love that merely entreats me to love in return—not graduate, clean the bathroom, or sit quietly in church. He doesn’t love me because of who I am but because of Who He is. Even if He doesn’t do another thing, He is and has done more than enough.
He’s more patient and attentive and never tired. Sometimes, it’s not until TD calls, “Can I come out?” that I remember I put him in timeout. Brown Sugar forgets her question by the time I feel her hand on my shoulder. I doze off when I pray in the early morning and if I sit too long in the passenger seat. I snap when I’ve told Think Tank to clean his room the fifty-eleventh time, threatening “No PlayStation, no food for a week, no breathing for the rest of the afternoon!”
Not God. He doesn’t sleep, look away, or forget where I am. He doesn’t act out of anger when it comes to His children. He righteously doles out justice, grace, and mercy. In our suffering, we can trust Him to remember, comfort, and relieve us. I can trust Him when He says, “If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139: 9, 10) Why?
Because He says so, in true parent fashion.
So, regarding the little people, I may lean a little to the left or the right depending on my mood or the situation, but our God doesn’t play favorites. I might ban them from my virtual island, and anyone else who bickers, refuses to share, or who forgets who they’re talking to when they address me. Yet God doesn’t bless the cutest, most compliant, the quietest, or the youngest and smite the rest. He also gives to the least, the lost, the grumpy, the old, the unfaithful, the angriest, to those who kill, plot, complain, or disobey—just ask His servant, David, the Apostle Paul, and big brother Judah. Ask Mama, and Crusader, Maven, Brown Sugar, Songbird, Think Tank, Lone Ranger, and yes, TD. We are all loved, cherished, and spoiled. God has adorned each of us with a glorious coat of many colors.
Still…just to be safe, our youngest dreamer should look out for any suspicious pits in the backyard or nomadic, camel-riding traders with extra cash on hand.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. 1 Peter 2: 9, 10