Tears come gushing out of my sweet Johnathan's eyes as he walks up to me asking
"Why didn't you come to wipe my heiny?"
"Um, what? You're crying because Daddy came instead of me to wipe your bottom?"
Clearly there was something more to it than that. Something deeper behind those crocodile tears.
It was 8:30, a little past his bedtime, when he got up to go potty. Funny, having to use the bathroom is the only excuse we let him use to come out of his room past bedtime, and almost every night he takes us up on it. But tonight was different. You would have thought his world was ending with one look at his sad little face. Eyes brimming with wetness, cheeks moist with the trail of tears.
"Oh Johnathan, are you really upset because I couldn't come wipe your bottom or is it something else?"
"No, I just wanted you to come wipe me."
"Honey, are you really saying that you're crying these big tears just because I didn't come to help you in the bathroom, or is it something else? Daddy helped you, right? You still had help."
"But I wanted you to help, I just wanted you to come...I just wanted you."
There it was, and I knew it too. Somewhere beneath the explanation of wanting only me to wipe his bottom was the realization that what he really wanted was just me. And I knew why.
Our nighttime routine hadn't gone as usual, and Johnathan is a stickler for routine. Due to a rowdy little brother (eh, hem, Eli, that was you!) we weren't able to read our book like normal and the progression of our bedtime wind-down with it's clockwork-like schedule of reading a book, singing, and nighttime snuggles was cut short.
So, as I knelt in front of Johnathan on the kitchen floor, my mother's heart knew what he couldn't put into words.
"Honey, does your heart hurt because you need some extra love from mommy before you go to bed? Do you need me to love on you?"
"Yes, that's why I'm crying."
Johnathan's love language is touch. Even at his young age it is so apparent. When ever he gets really happy about something he will say "I want to come give you a kiss!" and will run over to plant one on me. Whenever he is upset he wants to be held. When he thinks I am upset he wants to be close to me. He hugs me multiple times throughout the day and is still a big snuggler. He needs it. And tonight, even though was going to bed, his little love tank was running on empty. His normal "fill-ups" that happen during our bedtime routine hadn't happened and the reason why he looked like his world was ending is probably because his little heart felt like it was. Feeling a mother's (and father's) love is a powerful thing, and when it's absent (or feels that way to a child) it can be devastating.
So, we went over to the couch and had some snuggle time. I sang a simple song (Jingle Bells, his request!) and then he skipped happily into bed and is now fast asleep.
It's nice to feel needed.
Dear Lord, please help me to always be able to slow down, and be able to see into the heart of my children. Help me to be able to give them what they need through your grace. Help them to see You in me, and to eventually come running to You when their love tanks run dry. Fill me up so I can fill them up.
In Jesus' Name,