Every night, when my children were very young, I would come into their rooms to tuck them in and hear their prayers. Just before leaving their bedside to turn off their lights, I would lean down and say:
No Matter Where You Go
No Matter What You Do
Keep it in Your Pocket
That Your Momma Loves You….
As I got to the you, I would tickle them saying, “you, you, you, you, you.” They would squirm and giggle and join in the you chorus. I would kiss their sweet faces, turn out the light and settle in to the evening. This evening routine was as much a part of our day as breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don’t recall exactly when I stopped tucking the kids in, nor when it began to occur that they stayed up past me, but as is the way of raising children, new routines replaced old ones and little everyday occurrences disappeared.
We have had a very rough week in the Jones home. The everyday chaos of balancing everyone’s schedule, combined with the challenges of RAD, married to some unexpected financial stresses and the end of March crud that seems to take us captive has lead to some bad choices, worse attitudes, and an all together, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. In the midst of a discipline session today, I began to think about the days that seemed hard when the kids were younger. Those days seem easy now.
I thought of that little night time verse I offered the children each night. This promise of unconditional love which delighted them. When was the last time I shared with my children in clear terms, that no matter what they chose to do, I would love them through it? Even on the days the stress seems to be bearing down with extra force. Especially on the days I am so angry with them my face becomes flushed and my blood pressure could be counted by watching the pulsing veins in my neck. I think we need a new night time routine. I need to tuck them in, giving them a sense of protection and a reassurance of the mercies of a fresh day after a night of rest. My ears need to hear, as do theirs, my voice proclaiming my love for them. Not because we don’t know, but because on the hard days it just needs to be said out loud and often.
In August of 2016, Noah was going to bed the night before we would be moving him into his dorm room in Nashville. Just sixteen, he was going to school young, but ready. We had stayed up late, packing and reviewing the lists of what we needed to load up the next morning. That Saturday night, I couldn’t help but feel the weight of sadness that is tempered with the proud excitement of your children growing as you hoped they would. Noah, already under his covers, turned to his side, as I sat on the side of his bed. We chatted about nothing in particular. I was trying to make that day last longer. I knew once I went to bed, I would find myself helping him move and I just wasn’t sure I was ready for that day to come. Seeing his tiredness, I stood and leaned over him, I tucked his covers around him, snug as a bug in a rug. I kissed his forehead and whispered, “No matter where you go. No matter what you do. Keep it in your pocket, that your Momma loves……” He whispered, “you, you, you, you, you.” I walked out of the room, taking a deep breath. In that moment, that lanky, growing young man seemed very much the cheeky, tiny boy who slept in bunked beds and Star Wars sheets. Deep within him he held the knowledge of that rhyme and with it, the certainty of that unconditional love. That seemed a salve to my hurting heart.
Tonight, as I head to bed, my children will still be awake. But I am resolved to speak love over them before they go to bed. Because I know too well how soon the days pass and how far too soon for my liking they will not be here to tuck in. But it is my hope, as they lie in their beds, where ever they have gone and whatever they might be doing that they know their Momma loves them…..no matter what.