Today was the first warm day in months and the first time we were all able to step outside with just t-shirts on in forever. This winter I had hibernated more than usual because I had given birth to our third child, Moses, and even glancing out the window had made my bones shudder. Now, finally being able to step outside without putting on a dozen layers and actually being able to breathe in the sweet smell of spring was absolutely refreshing.
At first, we played around in our front yard with every single toy on our porch that had been neglected through the long winter, but before long, my son, Micah, asked if we could go to Page Elementary School. It’s a standard question he asks almost every other day. We don’t have a playground in our neighborhood, so Page is usually where we go if we want to play on one, but that wasn’t the main reason we were going there. Micah is my extrovert and although he did not say it, I knew he wanted to go because there are always new kids to play with there.
So we all piled into our minivan, and a quick two minutes later, we pulled into the school parking lot. It was only a little past 5 p.m., but the sun was already beginning to set behind the big playground that Micah was eagerly walking towards. Kindle, my 2-year-old, likes to take her time and was slowly taking steps to make her way over too, but of course it had to be in between picking at grass, singing made-up songs, and telling me “look mommy!” at every single thing that fascinated her. I love this about Kindle.
As I followed close to Kindle and pushed Moses along in the stroller, I kept my gaze on Micah who was now an entire field away from me and still walking steadily along to the playground. At first, no one else was in sight, but before he could even set foot onto the mulch, a huge group of bigger kids came out of nowhere and stampeded across the black top, filling the playground within a matter of seconds.
And for a moment, I could not see little 4-year-old Micah in the crowd of kids overshadowing him. Being my oldest child, I always saw him as a big, independent, self-sufficient boy, and I hardly ever worry about him. But size is so relative and suddenly he shrank into the likeness of a tiny, helpless baby, and all my protective motherly instincts came screaming out like an ambulance, police, and fire truck siren all in one.
Were those good kids or bad kids? How were they raised? Did they learn not to use cuss words and more importantly, that hands are for hugging and not for hitting? What were they saying to him? Would they accept him? Would they let him play with them like I knew he desperately wanted to? Please, for his sake, someone play with him, and dear God, let it be someone nice.
All these thoughts and more whirled through my mind, and then I remembered that they were actually a continuation of the same string of anxieties I had been having all week long. You see, Micah turns 5 this year which means it is time for kindergarten. Kindergarten? Really??? Wasn’t he just born the other day??
Yes, that’s right. Kindergarten. Feels more like I’m sending him off to college, if you ask me. And not only that, but you’d be surprised with how much more comes with raising a little 4-year-old child. Everyday, Micah starts countless conversations on topics I am unprepared to talk to him about–why there are orphans in the world, how airplanes fly and big boats float, and why we can’t bring home the homeless man down the road. He has already grown faster than I can keep up with, and while I never imagined that raising a child could be any harder than when they are infants, I am finding that older kids require much more complex parenting skills that frankly, I am not sure I have.
And for a moment this weekend, I panicked. Really, really panicked, causing me to beg the question, “how do I do this???” I thought about how God entrusted these children into my hands and how I was supposed to make all these decisions that will shape and prepare them to make it in the world as Spirit-filled, well-adjusted, kind, hardworking, loving, responsible people. What school should they attend? What friends can they play with? I can’t even make it past whether or not I should allow video games and certain television shows, God-forbid they see something that will give them nightmares.
And now here I was, seeing it play out right before my eyes. Micah in the real world and he didn’t even look back.
And you know what? He looked ok. More than ok, actually. In fact, before I knew it, Micah was on the field throwing the football he had brought from home, back and forth with several of the older boys. This should not have surprised me. He has always had a gift of making friends quickly and I have seen it time and time again where we enter some unknown territory, and having more boldness than I ever had, he moves in without hesitation, never shrinking back. It’s how God make him. But a mother still worries and that I did–for the last several days, that’s all I did. Yet now, for the first time in days, this moment brought a huge wave of peace, and I felt the Lord speak to me tenderly.
He’s going to be ok. Entrust him back to me.
Although in my physical care, I had to remember that Micah belonged to God first and foremost, and God was reassuring me He would take care of him. He reminded me of the time I got into an argument with my mother back when Micah was a wee 5-month-old baby and not sleeping well. We were going at it about the best way to put him to sleep–on his front, on his back, with two layers or one, etc. Then in the heat of the moment, I took Micah into my arms and with great entitlement, asserted that “this is my son.” It was then only half a second later that I heard the Lord say the very same words to me.
“This is my son.”
I was so humbled that day and honestly relieved to realize this simple truth. Micah was God’s son, and indeed the same is still true today. Micah is God’s child and although he may not always be safe from hurt or harm nor will he always look back to me, that is ok, and I hope and pray for the day he learns to look to God and God alone, just as I am learning to do so myself.