As an "older and wiser" woman — and more skeptical and a bit jaded, I suppose — my first instinct was to laugh: "Well, of course you didn't love them enough! How silly!" Jesus conceded that though we are imperfect parents (He literally called us "evil"!) we still do the best we know how! (Luke 6:11-13) Chances are, I did NOT love my family enough today or on any day.
Her question, however, haunted me. I continued to turn it over again and again in my mind. The question seemed a bit less daunting and a lot less accusing if I rephrased it: "Could I love my children more, could I love my children better, tomorrow?"
Well, Lord willing, I will be given tomorrow with my family. And yes, I will try to love them more completely tomorrow. However, none of us is promised tomorrow for our families or ourselves.
I have wept with mothers who have kissed tiny foreheads for the last time to send them to "The Land Where There Is No Tomorrow." I have prayed and pleaded with mothers whose children have been precariously close to the edge of "The Land Where There Is No Tomorrow." Those women know what it is to lay their heads down at night and ask, "Did I love them enough ...?"
My husband and I have tangoed around the line of calling it quits on "happily ever after." With our new resolve for our marriage, I am painfully aware of how fragile a marriage can be. I am fully aware of his choice to be here. I am intentional about daily letting him know that I appreciate his choice and all that he is to our family. Thankfully, I have not faced the horrific loss of one of my children. But, I think I have failed to be intentional about letting them know how thankful I am for them, as well.
The old apostle John, near the end of his life, reminded us, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1) My loving Father has LAVISHED His love on me. Surely, that lavished love should run over and splash on my family.
One small thing I am realizing more and more is that as my children grow, the frequent opportunity to touch or hug them is diminishing. I don't lift them in and out of car seats or high chairs any more. I don't help them in and out of the bathtub, wipe their faces, or even brush their hair for them any more. They are no longer at an arm's distance or underfoot all day, so I must be intentional about meaningful touch for my children. I know that my arms ache when my husband is not in town to hug and touch me. My children need touch and love even more!
Another thing that I've realized that means a lot to my kids is to simply sit together and hang around together. Of course, the TV should be off for this — although it's also a good idea to know what they're watching and talk to them about it. My kids like for me to talk to them about my day, as well as listen to them about theirs. We dream and scheme, hope and plan.
Meaningful touch, intentional listening, and being together are not huge undertakings. They take a very little amount of time — my kids really like to limit how much time they hang out with me anyway-- and they require no money at all! I just have to be intentional about doing those things.
And tonight I will wonder, "Could I love them more tomorrow?"
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