I’ve often described my oldest son, who’s nineteen and stands a foot above my head, as “fiercely independent.” But he wasn’t always that way. In fact as a child, he was fiercely dependent.
When he was a baby, I’d cringe every time someone reached out to hold him. I knew within seconds he’d be crying and reaching right back for me. Hard as they’d try to work their baby magic, that boy wouldn’t settle down until he was safely back in my arms.
Even my husband felt helpless at times. After trying every trick to pacify him, he’d bring him right back to me. “I give up. You’re the one with the food supply.”
How I wished my baby boy would be content with someone else besides me. But during that season of his young life, I had to accept that I was his anchor. The center of his world. And when I held him, I held him together - in security and peace. This is the beauty and mystery of the bond between a mother and child.
Each one of my children have had varying degrees of attachment to me; some more clingy than others. But with each one of those precious babies, we shared something I now regard as sacred. A litany of simple words I spoke to them when I held them in my arms…
“You’re okay. Mama’s here. I’ve got you.”
I’d whisper those words over and over like a lullaby. And even when I wasn’t saying them out loud, I was still saying to them in my head. You’re okay. Mama’s here. I’ve got you.
But the years passed, and my children grew. With each milestone, they became more and more independent, more secure, more ready to step out on their own. Instead of reaching back to me, they started reaching out to the world.
It happens for all of us. Seasons change, and our children grown up.
And sometimes they decide they’re too big to hold, or too cool to hug. But that awkward season doesn’t last long. I’m amazed how even big kids still want to be cuddled and held. It’s beautiful.
So even when they seem to grow too big or too cool; there’s something they never outgrow.
They never outgrow the need to hear those words from us, “You’re okay. Mama’s here. I’ve got you.” Just in a different kind of way.
What I’ve discovered with my kids is that they still need reassurance from me. They need to hear “You’re okay, and I’m still here”. But even more importantly, they need to hear “The Lord is here, and He’s got you.”
My big, tall, nineteen year old boy reaches out to me from college all the time. Every week he sends me texts asking for prayers for one thing or another - an exam, a project, an interview, or even a personal struggle.
I never dreamed that little boy would one day become so fiercely independent, but I also never dreamed my big boy would remain so fiercely dependent - on his mama’s prayers.
He still relies on the security that I’ve got him. Even though he’s no longer reaching out for me to hold him in my arms; he’s reaching out for me to hold him in prayer.
He doesn’t need my food supply; He needs God’s supply of grace. He no longer looks to me as his anchor, but my love and prayers keep him anchored in God. I don’t hold him together; God holds Him together. I’m no longer the center of his world; God is taking that rightful place.
So when he texts me for prayer, and I respond that “I’m on it!”- what I’m really saying to my boy is “YES! I’ve got you. And God’s got you too.”
So friends, to those of you with little ones you’re still holding - whether it’s rocking a fussy baby to sleep, consoling a child who has been hurt, or mending a child that is sick. When you’re holding your precious children in your arms, remember this --
… in every one of those sacred moments of being held, your child is experiencing the love of Someone beyond yourself. They’re experiencing His secure embrace, much stronger than your own; and His perfect peace, surpassing anything you could ever offer.
And to my friends whose kids are no longer small enough to fit in your arms, know this --
… just the very presence of you gives them a deep abiding peace. And long after the days when you held them in your arms, you’re still saying “I’ve got you” - every time you hold them - in your presence and in your prayers.