It’s ten o’clock and I’m tucking them into bed, weary with the breadth and depth of the day—up since five and piles of laundry still stacked on my bed.
I perch on the edge of Little E’s bottom bunk, her thin, white arms reaching up to circle my neck, and I see dirt streaks on her cheeks and realize she didn’t get a bath—did she brush her teeth?—but she’s pulling my head close saying, “Sing Jesus Loves Me, This I Know, mommy, two times, then Sunshine.” And one song becomes two and two three, and three four, and then she kisses me hard—once, twice, thrice . . . .
Then the youngest boy pops up from his bunk like a mole, saying, “It’s my turn, Mom, give me a kiss, Mom,” and so I give his freckled cheeks a kiss and he pats my back while whispering into my ear, “Mom . . . Mom, I was just thinking that maybe I had a bad thought, and, Mom, I feel bad . . .” and this kid, he’s in confession mode again—worried about every thought that runs through his head and what it means about who he is, so I tell him he’s not the only one who thinks those thoughts and together we pray for grace.
Then Jo-Jo’s head appears over the bedrail of the other bunk. My fingers reach for his cheek, and I feel the questions in his taut jaw before he says a word, “Mom . . . I keep thinking about those blood-sucking monsters, and I know they aren’t real, but God can make them real, if he wants, and I know God says he’s with me, but I know I don’t always love God, so that must mean he’s not in my heart, which means he’s not with me . . . .” He pauses, looking for direction in the dark room of his heart, and I want to say Good grief! Go to bed! But I take a deep breath and wade into the fearful things of a young man’s heart, hold them gentle, and point him to the One who loved him first and loves him always.
I look at the glowing clock face across the room. One more kiddo to go. That laundry might migrate to the floor again tonight. Bed to floor, floor to bed. . . .
I lean down on the edge of my oldest son’s bed, fingers searching the sheets. He’s curled up against the wall, football quilt pulled over his head. I yank the quilt down, and his hand shoots out like a claw, pulling me close, voice quivering, “I’m feeling needy tonight, Mom.”
He’s twelve, almost thirteen, winning races, breaking records, wondering the weight of a young man’s worth. I stroke his hair and tell him I love him, win or lose, and his words flow fast and I realize he’s not gonna stop, so I curl up next to him in the night, knowing every young man needs a quiet port to speak the deep waters of his heart.
As I sit with my sons in their dark, fragile places, trusting His faithfulness to carry me in those raw, vulnerable spaces, their hearts open to the One who promises—I love you and will never let you go.
A mother’s steady love helps her children trust Jesus’ promise to anchor their souls in life’s stormy seas.
And someday, when they open their sails and set out to sea, moving far away from me, they won’t be dashed on the rocks of circumstance because they’ll trust, “Jesus Loves me, this I know.”
“The purposes of a [child’s]heart are deep waters, but [a mother] with insight draws them out. “ (Proverbs 20:5)