My tender-hearted son, Aiden, and I made a collage of people that Aiden loves: Jesus, holding the baby; hi and Kasher; him and his cousin Logan, him and Grandpa, and him and Joey. The collage hangs by his bed reminding him he is surrounded by love.

Kasher’s sucking the ear of his teddy bear and lying in the middle of the living room floor. I look at him lying there so small. Put a blanket over him. And I lie down beside him and we just stare at each other for about five minutes. I don’t say anything. I just open up my eyes and let him see me. He searches them. His forehead wrinkles a little and his honest hazels just wander around my soul seeing Mommy.

I’ve been letting my sons see more of me this week. They’ve seen me cry a little. They’ve seen me need Trent to hold me more often. They knew about the baby growing in my womb. They also know that she is now with Jesus and they know that the tree we planted out back by the fence is their sister’s tree. And Aiden sometimes says, “I miss baby.” And I say, “I miss her too, sweetie.”

But I try  not to cry too much.

I cannot choose grief. Grief chose me, but I can choose how to mourn.

As mothers, we are called to nurture and protect our children. We are called to create a safe space for them, a place full of comfort where they don’t need to be the protectors--where they can be free to grow all limbs and long and gangly and the pruning, to come later. I want to be real with them. But only in order for them to see how real Jesus is to me. 

I will not hide my hurt, but only so that my sons might see me run to Jesus with it.

And I will not use my children as confidants or friends.

Because they will be my friends, if I need them to be. They will listen. They will give me the sympathy I need. And then they will try so hard to be strong, forever, for me, because they won’t want to let me down. And then they’ll never be free to mourn, themselves. To be long and gangly. They’ll always feel they need to be small and neat and tidy and put together and then they’ll break.

My friend and colleague Dr. Megan Osborne told me something which has helped me. She said that when she’s having a hard day, she tells her kids she needs to take a minute to talk to Jesus, and then she goes into her room and she cries and she prays, and when she comes out, she’s rested and calm. And one day her five-year-old son was feeling sad and he said, “I need to take a minute to talk to Jesus,” so he went into his room and when he came out he was rested and calm.

I don’t want to hide my hurts from my children. I want them to know it’s okay to be sad. I want to lie down beside them and let them look into Mommy’s eyes, to see her soul, to see themselves reflected in me. But I also want them to know that Jesus can heal those hurts. That we don’t have to be hurt forever.

And that God’s kingdom is a very real and tangible and joyful presence which we can run to, here on earth.