Something from yesterday brought it to mind and lept me up last night. We were at a family dinner with Doug's cousins from out of town. The kids were running and playing and having a ball outside and the grown ups were catching up inside. Ravenna came running in and climbed up into my lap. She snuggled her whole 6 year old self into me and said, "I'm your baby." I held her and rocked her and whispered how she would always be my first baby in her ear. She looked up and said, "I want to to always be a baby." I asked her why and she said, "because I always want you to do everything for me and to take care of me." The cousin sitting next to me said, "Do you guys do that alot?"
The question struck me, because we do. Everyday. Ravenna would be happy to spend her whole day rocking in my arms hearing how much I love her. She begs to play "Mama-Baby" and has for years. As much as I have patience for, she curls up in my arms, scrunches up her face and wails "Waaaaaa" and then smiles and cuddles as close as possible. And always wants more. Honestly...sometimes this drives me crazy, there are times when the need feels bottomless....and in some ways I treasure it. It feels like a tangible way that I can reach that spot of emptiness from before. That time before. The almost empty picture. That I can hold and speak love into the spot. Wrapping my arms around a time when there were not many available arms to be found.
With Georgia it comes in the form of melting into our arms or hiding under the blankets of our bed. She begs to cuddle on the couch all day long. This morning she woke up a full 2 hours before her brother and sister so we crawled into our bed. She immediately slid far beneath the covers and whispered with a grin, "Hiding!" Then her little head popped back up by mine and in this way she says things that she loves she said, "Georgia's Mama!" Burying her head in my chest. In writing them down, they may seem like mere cuddles but something about these experiences feels far more profound.
Parker loves his snuggles too. They feel different, more of a content, just checking in thing. I love it when he comes for these snuggles too. It is a time to re-assure him that I love him and think he is the greatest little boy on the planet.
I have come to think of these moments back parenting and we are learning to seek them out. Allowing the space for these needs, freeing the girls especially to seek them out when they need them. Maybe it is for my sake, maybe for the kids but either way, it is an integral part of our parenting. A time may come when these opportunites are not so abundant so I am learning to let the dishes, laundry (and even this blog!) wait...because their little hearts are far too precious.
Then it got me to thinking about my own heart and the ways that the Lord has back parented me...how when I bring Him my empty spots, hidden spot, the ones I don't want anyone to see, He tenderly speaks to them, heals them and when I let Him hold me, they begin to be miraculously filled up with His love.
"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten..."