By ROBIN O’BRYANT
My husband and I take turns traveling for our respective jobs. On any given week, one of us is likely to be out of town for at least one night. Even though it can be a little hectic, juggling schedules—and single parenting on occasion—it works for our family. We each get to spend time alone with our kids and I can never, ever say, “My husband has no idea what it’s like when he’s not here!” Because he knows exactly what it’s like.
He was out of town a few weeks back and after two days of dragging the kids out of the bed, getting dressed, fed and to school (late), running carpool, working and doing the whole dinnertime, bath time, bedtime dance—I was tired. I can’t say it enough—single parents are heroes.
I was sitting on the couch flipping through a book while the girls “brushed their teeth.” That’s in quotes because it can mean any variety of things: they are sword fighting with their toothbrushes; they are using their toothbrushes as microphones and singing at the top of their lungs, they are scrubbing the bathroom counter, or they are ignoring me and playing—not even having the decency to pretend like they are brushing their teeth.
Aubrey, my almost nine-year-old, approached me sheepishly, the way she does when she knows that the answer to whatever she is about to ask is, “No.”
“Momma?” She started, “I know this sounds ridiculous, but will you please brush my teeth for me?”
She hurried on before I could say anything, “I know I can do it myself and I will if you want me to, but sometimes I just like to feel small again. Do you know what I mean?”
I was going to say yes even before she explained why, but the “why” melted my heart.
“Of course I will.”
“Do you know what I mean Momma? Do you ever want to feel small again?” she asked, her somber blue eyes and smooth freckled cheeks making her face look even more earnest.
“I do know what you mean. And P.S. You ARE still small!”
I brushed her teeth and tucked her in, making my way to the other side of the house to wrestle her young sisters into the bed. I sat back on the couch for a few minutes, waiting to put anybody who got up back in the bed, and thought about what she had said.
I knew exactly what she meant by “to be small”—to be loved, cared for, without a care in the world. And as I made my final route around the sleeping house 30 minutes later, pushing sweaty blond curls off of pink cheeks flushed with sleep, I realized that God wants us to feel “small.”
“One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: ‘Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these,’” (Matthew 19: 13-14). The Message
P.S. In God’s eyes, you are still small, too.