Someone in this world loves me ‘Best of All’.
We were cuddled up together this morning as he gave me kisses and kisses and nose-nuzzles and squeezes and whispered sweet nothings to me – things like, “I love you SO much!”, and, “You’re the bestest Mama in the WHOLE WORLD!” (we can thank Doc McStuffins for that one…). And I just drank in his adoration and revelled in the extra love I was getting to make up for the good-night cuddles I missed when I was out for dinner with his Daddy last night.
All my boys, as toddlers, have gone through a phase of being particularly attached to (and loving towards) their Mama. All of them lavished me with unsolicited cuddles, and all of them were reluctant to leave my side when they had to be separated from me – and they were quick to return to my arms when we were reunited.
My first son had to be prised from first my legs and then the good-bye gate on his first morning at preschool – he was all clinging arms and legs, like some sort of reluctant octopus…
My second son asked his preschool teachers, “When’s Mummy coming?” so many times that they eventually struck up a deal with him that he could only inquire about my e.t.a. three times in a morning.
My third son was happy enough with preschool, but he needed me to stay with him in the church nursery for ages, and even after he got used to it he’d make up for lost time with extra hugs and kisses when I picked him up. At home, he’d follow me around like a little curly-headed shadow.
And now this little one is going through that stage where his world – and his devotion – centres on Mama.
Right now, he loves me best of all. But it won’t last.
This adoration – this devotion – is a natural phase. Some would say it’s a biological imperative – that, while children mature beyond the absolute necessity of our care in infancy, they demonstrate this heart-warming attachment to their parents to stir in us a protective response. But I think it’s more than that – I feel that it’s also a response to a nurtured bond between a mother (or other primary caregiver) and her child.
Nevertheless – whether nature, nurture, or some combination of the two – it is temporary.
I will hopefully always be beloved by my sons; I certainly know that they will always be beloved by me. But this stage of my being the very centre of their universe does not last, and nor is it meant to.
Their world – and their hearts – open up as they grow. They realize that there’s room for loving and being attached to other people. And mothers lose their singular place in the lives of their children.
As our kids grow into more independent beings – as they stretch their wings and take fledgling hops towards solo flight – they need us to provide for them a place where they know that they are loved best of all. Because, while young children take it for granted that everyone around them utterly adores them, older children understand that there are some limits to how adorable they are (and to whom they are adorable) and therefore need the assurance that home is still a safe and loving place. In the midst of peer pressure, negative experiences and the challenge of discerning between competing influences, older kids need to know that home is where they’re loved best of all.
It’s really easy to get into a habit of nitpicking, criticizing, or arguing with kids as they push away in establishing their independence. But whatever we do, we need to be conscious of the fact that our actions will affect how safe and loving our kids perceive our home to be. (And oh, man – I don’t know about you, but that feels like a LOT of pressure to me!)
Fortunately for me, as a Christian I am able to give my kids some added assurance. Not only is home where they’re loved best of all; not only are we (their parents and family) the ones who love them best of all – there is Another who loves them best of all, too.
The Lord your God is with you;
his power gives you victory.
The Lord will take delight in you,
and in his love he will give you new life.
He will sing and be joyful over you.
God loves our kids unreservedly. God loves our kids eternally. God loves our kids personally.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God loves our kids ‘best of all’.
And they’re not the only ones, either. He loves us just the same. Best of all.
No matter who we are or what we’ve done, no matter where we are in our faith – even regardless of whether or not we love him back – there will always be someone who loves each one of us ‘best of all’. And as He’s the One who was there before time began, we can be confident that it’s not just a passing phase.
Please don’t forget that. Please don’t dismiss it or make excuses for why it can’t be true. Just know it.
God loves YOU best of all.