With great frequency, our news and social media remind us of the tragedies that are all too common in this broken, fallen world. My Facebook feed is weekly filled with the news of another injury, another illness, and even the death of children.
For those of us with children, on earth or in heaven, our hearts share a special ache for these parents, both for our friends, family, and acquaintances and for the stranger with whom we unite in sorrow as we read of their loss. A few of us have even entered into being the main subject of such tragedies.
It’s not uncommon to respond to such news by noting that we are going to hold our babies tighter tonight as we sorrow with those who are grieving.
But here’s a gift to us all:
Mamas, you don’t have to wait for a tragedy to give yourself permission to rock your baby to sleep. You don’t have to wait for a tragedy to hold your little one close and give thanks for the time you have together.
It need not take another’s loss to remind us of these precious, fleeting years. It’s okay to cuddle and comfort your child who needs you in the night, and it’s okay to show your babies that someone is there to respond to their cries.
Doing these things are more than just okay; this is a beautifully designed gift of a parent-child bond that is repeatedly woven throughout Scripture to illustrate God’s love for us.
Someday, some of us may be that aged woman in the corner whose eyes water with tears as her arms ache to hold a baby passing by, something that now seems a lifetime ago for her. Even closer in time for some, today may all too soon seem like a lifetime ago when unexpected changes rock your family’s world.
If we can get this now, before we are the elderly woman longing for her years with children, while we aren’t yet in the epicenter of child loss, suffering, or grief, we can give both ourselves and our children a very precious gift during these years we so closely share together.
As Max Lucado has said:
“Forgive and give as if it were your last opportunity. Love like there’s no tomorrow, and if tomorrow comes, love again.“
So, mamas, rock your babies to sleep tonight. If tomorrow comes, hold them again. Let your little ones fall asleep, safe in your presence. Let your little one who is afraid of the dark know that you are there. Hold your preschooler tight and let him feel the warmth and security of your love. Stay close. Tell your teen again and again how much you love her.
And then, when tragedy happens, we’ll keep on holding, keep on loving. Some of us will go on doing so as we grieve alongside others, and some of us will hold on to the memories and moments as we begin our new journey down the road of grief. And when and where we can, we’ll put our words of sorrow into action and hold onto and hold up the weary and the weeping ones while we walk together down this road of parenthood. We weep for you, we weep with you, though our word do little to ease the unimaginable pain you bear.
(And since this is the age of the Internet, here’s my disclaimer:
This isn’t meant to be a guilt-trip, just a heart-cry. And, I’m also certain that many who hold their babies tighter after a tragedy also hold their babies tight all the time.
If you’re a mama or daddy who is overwhelmed in the moment, in the chaos, it’s also okay to put the crying baby down in a safe place, and retreat until you can gather your sanity and self-control or seek outside help if you can.
It’s okay to remind ourselves that there’s grace and forgiveness and grief in all the broken moments in between the love and the loss. ‘Cause they’ll come for each of us, and they’ll come when we least expect. It’s okay–it’s necessary–to remember that love covers a multitude of sins and grievances and regrets, for ourselves and for our little ones, as we go on holding, go on loving, and go on rocking to sleep our tiniest ones who “won’t keep.”
And if you wrestle with allowing yourself to physically love or physically respond to your baby because you’ve been told it’s wrong, or that you will spoil your baby, or if you wonder if it’s okay at all, I recommend working through these resources: Spirit-Led Parenting: From Freedom to Fear in Baby’s First Year and Two Thousand Kisses a Day.)