She doesn’t know she’s big.

The girl was tiny – really tiny.  She looked like a walking baby doll.  She was obviously much older than her size would lead me to believe and when I asked her mom, yep – 16 months in 9-month clothes.  She was beautiful and just so precious.  Malachi was tiny like that, too, and it was the best.  He wore newborn clothes for 4 months, and I carried him around in his infant seat until he was 14 months old.  In a sense you really do get to keep them “babies” for longer.

My daughter, however, is the opposite. 22 months younger than her brother but four pounds heavier.  She is not even 2 but comfortably wearing 3T shirts because of her adorable, enormous potbelly. We are asked frequently if they are twins.  She is stronger than my son.

stuck on a see-saw

And she’s fearless.  She climbs things, jumps off things, and is utterly independent. I let her climb ladders and slide down big slides and learn by doing because she won’t have it any other way and she has plenty of padding to cushion her falls.  Which are frequent.  When Malachi is too timid to try something she goes first and barely notices when he follows her because she’s already off to do it again.  She’s a natural leader who doesn’t even know she’s being followed – she’s just being herself.

She’s heavy, and she’s squirmy.  You carry her for 5 minutes and you are exhausted.  When Malachi hides from scary cartoon characters, she laughs.  She talks in sentences and already knows half her letters and can count to 13 (minus “7”).  She has entire songs memorized.

Two months ago she got a toddler bed for Christmas and she was really excited. She layed in it to watch TV and we set it up in her room that night.  And the poor thing was terrified.  She didn’t know what to do with herself and felt so insecure. Every time I heard her get out of bed she was picking up another toy to put in the bed with her – her popcorn push toy, her Elsa doll, 6 books.  If I told her to go back to sleep she burst into tears.  The next two nights I had to lay with her until she fell asleep and she still wimpered and sniffled.  We switched back to the crib after that, and I dealt with my Mommy guilt for a week.  I was so surprised by her reaction – my girl who leaps from couches, laughs at the guarddogs in our neighborhood, and watches the Frozen ice monster without fear just did not know what to do with herself in a bed with no walls.

pre-freakout

I adore her hugs and cuddles, but carrying her around is so hard.  She’s so big, and so advanced, and so mature, and I have to constantly remind myself, “She doesn’t know she’s big.”  She may not look like a baby doll, but she’s still a baby, at least for a few more days.  Even though she can do things other kids her age can’t do, reach things, open heavy doors, climb on the big kid playground, balance on a tire swing, she still crys when she bonks her head, or when she can’t play with big kid toys, or when Mommy can’t carry her anymore.  She is Malachi’s best friend but she doesn’t understand pretend, so when he tells her that he’s a crocodile and he’s going to bite her, she runs to me for protection.  And I have to say to myself and to my son, again and again, “She doesn’t know she’s big.”

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Your kids don’t either.  They don’t know they are mature for their age, or strong, or heavy.  They know they are your baby and you are their protection.  And in the moments when they are frustrating, or tiring, or needier than you’ve seen them in weeks, remember that most of the world still looms over their heads like so many giants, and most obstacles are still too big for them to hurdle.  You are the one who gets on their level, picks them up, and carries them home.

She doesn’t know she is big, so I won’t forget that she’s little.  She is, afterall, still my baby.

Conversations with Malachi

If you’re sniffing a theme, this is a drop in the overflowing bucket (or toilet) of Malachi jokes.

While going potty before bed:
**dramatic sigh**  Mama, is this pee-pee EVER going to come?

Right before the nursery-free Christmas Eve service that Jeremy and I in a fit of over-sugared Christmas spirit genuinely thought our kids could endure peacefully:
Malachi:  **dancing on the chair**  Pee pee pee pee pee pee pee!
Me:  Malachi, no. We don’t do that unless we are at home.  Some people don’t like to hear that, okay?
Malachi:  O-KAY!  Poo poo poo poo poo poo poo!
Me:  Malachi!  No.  I’m serious and you know better.  Stop.
Malachi:  **dramatic pause, followed by a dead-serious stare-down with me, and then broken by  GAS gas gas gas gas gas gas!

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After finishing his bidness, in a super high-pitched voice:
Mama! Wook at those widdle baby poo-poos! Aw, they so cute. I wanna give them hugs.

Passing our neighbors’ lighted Santa sleigh and red-nosed leader:
Wook, Mama!  It’s Santa and Sven!

At a random breakfast:
A-B-C-poop-E-pee-pooooop-H-I-J-poop-L-M-N-O-gaaaaaas!

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A Secret

Last Fall I went through Beth Moore’s Bible study on secrets. The entire summary of it is this: Secrets manifest. They always do, in one way or another. Bad secrets that are never told in words are exposed in the lines on our faces, the way we treat others, the dreams we live at night, anxiety, eating disorders, anger. But there are good secrets, too. Things we keep to ourselves so that God can get the glory later.

Sometimes we confess something before the Lord privately, but we never talk about it. We carry the guilt as a secret – even though we think we’ve dealt with it, we can’t even whisper the words of it out loud.

That’s what happened to me a few months ago. It was time to go and we were late – really late. And I was tired – really tired. Malachi had been at his worst and today was no different. No matter what I told him he did the opposite. I pulled out his brown sneakers and he insisted on the white ones. I asked him to walk to the door and he had to stop in his room to get things. And then we walked to the front door and I saw it – the pile of toys I’d bought on sale for Christmas that I had accidentally left on the couch. Well of course he rushed over and absolutely ignored my every call for him to come to the door. Finally I lost it. I got angry – really, really angry. I was stressed and late and none of that was his fault, but I took it out on him. He burst into tears, upset and scared, and immediately my stomach dropped and I realized how awful the whole thing was. And for whatever reason, even after I apologized to him and prayer journaled about it, I carried that guilt for weeks. I could not get over it.

So I told my husband, thinking maybe that would help. And he understood my guilt and did not condemn. He told me he thought Malachi didn’t even remember. But it didn’t help.

I told myself I was making a bigger deal out of it than it was. I told myself that Malachi had forgiven me and I needed to forgive myself, too. I ignored the guilt that wouldn’t go away.

Then I remembered something we’d talked about in the Bible study – the power of spoken-aloud prayer. I am an avid prayer-journaler and rarely pray aloud for that reason, but one day I was in the shower and I just couldn’t take it anymore. No one was around and I just poured out my heart to God. I told Him about my guilt, about how confused I was over it. I told Him how I just couldn’t get over it and begged that He would help. I just verbally gave it over.

I did feel lighter but still not great when I sat down to do my Bible study homework that day. We were supposed to read a passage from Hebrews and as I picked up my iPod to use my Bible app, the Lord whispered, “Use your regular Bible.” I’m reading through the amplified Bible right now, and to be honest, I find it more exhausting than encouraging most of the time. So I wasn’t too excited, but I did it anyways. And this is what I read:

For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.
Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].
Hebrews 4:15-16, AMP

Tears streamed down my face. Mercy for our failures. Mercy for our failures. This was what God was trying to tell me – Yes, you did fail. But I have mercy for you. I have forgiven you. His grace isn’t just sufficient for my imperfections – He has abundant mercy even in my failure.

When I closed my Bible study book I moved on to my daily Bible reading, which passage happened to be my favorite story in all the Bible – John 21. When Peter – crazy, overzealous, relate-able, wonderful Peter – sees the Lord on the beach. He hasn’t spoken to him since before His death, and their last interaction was the knowing look Christ gave Peter right after he denied Him. Can you imagine the utter guilt Peter was feeling? So instead of helping the disciples paddle quickly to shore, Peter puts on his coat and jumps in the water, swimming for all he’s worth to reach the sand. Later, when they were walking, Christ asked him,

“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these do?” He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus told him, “Feed my lambs.”  Jesus said a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus told him, “Shepherd my sheep.”  Jesus said a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” and said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus replied, “Feed my sheep.”

And in that moment, after I had spoken my ugly secret into the open and laid it before the Lord in our beautiful secret place, He whispered to me, “Your children are my sheep. Shepherd them.”

God had walked me through the restoration process, and there, sitting on my bed, crying tears of joy and resting in the arms of my Father, for the first time in weeks, I was free.

He has mercy for your failures. Trust Him.