Holy rollers, life with three kids three and under is proving to be a lot. A whole lot. One minute I’ve got this and everyone is content in their place: one on the breast, one playing with his ABC computer, another at the table making Valentines for her friends. But I blink and it all falls apart. Little man finally clears the gas bubble but half of his milk comes up with it, and at the same moment his big brother wants on mama’s lap and the Valentine’s fun has worn off so the three-year-old has pushed the chair to the counter and found the kitchen shears so she can make “big girl crafts.” Deep breath. Because this is it, this is motherhood. Life with my babies is all at once more than I can handle and everything I love most in the whole world.
A few days ago, Alex picked up Cannon, our sweet middle child, and he hugged him tight and said, “Cannon, I just love the way God made you.” And as I watched that hug, I grabbed those words and thought, yes, that. That is exactly what we are going to tell our kids every single day. Especially on the hard days, when it goes from good to crazy in half a second. And not because we need a false motivational talk to reorient our parenting, but because it is true: we love the way God made our kids, and we want them to know it.
At the very core of each of our kids is the Imago Dei, the image of a perfect God. When I look at Harper, who is wild, folks, real wild—she demands our attention at all times, wants to sing and roller skate in the house and tell stories about everything—I know that underneath that will and fierceness is the exact nature God wanted her to have. He wanted her bold, strong, and loud. And I don’t know what plans he has for her, but I know she will need those things, and my job is to train her heart to want to use them for his kingdom.
And then I look at Cannon, who is quiet and tender. He prefers to watch, and when crowds get to be too much I can usually find him in another room with his blocks or big orange tractor. Cannon has not found many words yet, but he sure isn’t stingy with his cuddles—this boy loves to be held, finding his place in the nook between my shoulder and head with no trouble at all. He is so gentle and mild-mannered, and I don’t know what plans God has for him, but I know he will need those things, and my job is to train his heart to use them for his kingdom.
And Jordi, my precious newborn, who has proven thus far to simply be content. He smiles at anyone who will coo along with him, and his chubby cheeks are irresistibly kissable. We don’t know what personality will emerge in our littlest, but whoever he becomes, whatever God gives him, I know he will need those things, and my job is to train his heart to use them for his kingdom.
Our kids are all so different, and they all need very different things from us. But we are ALL so different, and we all need different things from one another. I love that about God. He knew we would all need a Savior, so he gave us one. But then he layered on top of that beautifully unique ways to walk through the world and love one another, and not one of us could do exactly what he has asked another to do. I need that confidence for myself every day, and I want to give it to my babies, too. Harper will play a role that Cannon may not, just as he will impact people in a manner Harper never could. And the same will be true for Jordi. And I am so in love with every detail of it, because I get to be the mom who cheers them all on, watching God do for them what I will never be able to as he guides the steps of their lives.
Every day, I want to speak truth over these precious kids. I want to tell them that they will need grace and forgiveness, as we all do, and that Jesus is the only one who offers that without condition. I want them to look to the sky, over the mountains, across the ocean and even at the details of a flower and think ‘Wow, you did all of this, God?” I want them to love God’s words and hide it in their hearts forever. And I want to speak truth to myself in the process, giving 'out loud' reminders to my heart that the hardest of moments are part of the beauty in being a mom to these children.
I hope they look back on their childhood and remember joy and laughter and consistent training from their mom and dad, and I hope they always believe it when we say, “I love the way God made you.”