I’m gonna start this post by saying that I love my kids, BUT…
I love my kids but sometimes I question if they love me back. Never is this more pronounced than school holidays, when my teacher husband is home for great chunks of time and there is the wonderful expectation of family time, of the house buzzing with fun and memory-making.
My heart aches a little as I write this. The truth is that my kids are so enamoured of their father that school holidays are a bit painful for me. By the end, I feel rather battered by the constant rejection. I joke about it with friends, but they know there is some hurt in my banter of being able to leave the kids with dad, not a care in the world, no clingers-on, no tears, no “I want mummy!”
Come here darling, I say, let me put on your shoes.
“No! Daddy do it.”
Would you like to come and do the groceries, just you and me?
“Is daddy going?”
I scoop up our screaming youngest after she has fallen backwards off a chair. I rock her and croon soothing words in her ear. With tears smearing my shoulder, she thrashes about and reaches for, “Daddy! Daddy!”
I know it’s a phase. I know it happens plenty to others. I know, I know, I know. But it still hurts! My thoughts get indignant. I mean, I’m the one who made the bigger sacrifices. My body bears the scars of bringing them into the world. And this is the thanks!
It was Sunday, the day before school goes back and we’d been out for a fun morning bike-riding, skate-boarding, swinging and eating pastries up the river. Master Five had fallen asleep in the car and I’d left the door open, going back and forth every 10 minutes to check on him. Finally, I touched his arm, swept his fringe out of his eyes, and watched him stir from his sleep, slowly awakening to the fact he’d been snoozing in the car for the last half-hour. He looked at me, confused.
You fell asleep in the car, sweetness, I said.
And he just hit me in the face. Wham. Not sure what he was thinking exactly, but clearly mine wasn’t the first face he wanted to see on waking up.
Now, my son – he’s the sweetest kid. He loves his cuddles and kisses before bed, and he loves to “be the gentleman” by holding doors open and giving compliments on my hair or my clothes. Straight away, he said sorry. But I walked away in tears because it was the tip of a big, holiday iceberg of rejection.
As I let those tears stream down my cheeks (it really is the best therapy!), I felt God gently empathise. I know this feeling, he said. He knows rejection. Oh boy, does he know rejection!
The Bible is full of accounts of people slapping God in the face. The Israelites in the desert. Adam and Eve in the garden. Jonah when he initially refused to go to Nineveh. Peter when he denied knowing Jesus – his best mate – three times.
And then I got to thinking about the way that I reject God in my life. It is summed up in a word: distraction. When I choose to worry instead of praying. When I choose to do housework instead of reading the Word. When I tell myself I’m too busy to listen to the still, small voice prompting me to call on someone in need. When I allow a build-up of guilt to stop me from sitting in his presence. When I see grotty clothes instead of little bodies full of life and glee. When I see awful weather instead of majestic clouds.
Sitting there nursing my mum-heart, I had a revelation of God’s father-heart. He longs to be our everything in the same way that I desire to be there to cuddle my children, to spend time with them and listen to the things that are important to them.
“The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.”
– Psalm 103:13-14 (NLT)
And my few scars of labour, the silvery stretch marks – they’ve got nothing on the scars of his son who hung on that cross in the ultimate gesture of fatherly love.
“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.”
– John 1:12-13 (NLT)
And I’m mopping up these tears, feeling thankful for such a startling insight into the heart of my Father God. His love is immense.