You sleep long this afternoon, fever breaking beneath pink fleece. Your forehead is still warm to the touch. I sit next to you and watch you for some time, then I kiss your cheek. You are so small. So beautiful.
I walk circles in the kitchen, wondering what to do with myself. The boys are napping, your sisters are entertained downstairs. l need to rinse all those muddy shoes from this morning and put clothes into the washer. The dishwasher needs emptying. I need to look at the week, remember what's happening, return phone calls, vacuum the floor from lunch.
I spin. Going nowhere.
And then I see it. The book I've been marking for you. God's words and my words, mixed.
You are my third-born. So yours is the third book I have marked. I've scratched notes into the margins, run my yellow pencil across phrases that whisper they are for you, tried to think what might be important to your sixteen-year-old self all those years from now when the world has changed but the Word hasn't. And He is all the more mindful of you, and so am I.
I open your book. Knowing I need something living and full of light - something to bring me back to what matters. I am tired of the bickering today, the needling and poking, the ruckus that knocked a favorite piece off the mantel and burst it into shards, the pinching while we tried to read a story on the couch. There was disrespect. There was lack of love. Maybe it was just an off-day. But I am feeling it too. Less love.
So I open to Nephi, after he has written all those marvelous prophecies from the poet Isaiah. And this phrase at the top of the page stops me quick.
"It is by grace that we are saved"
I've read those words before. So many times. But never alone. Not bare like that, without anything before or after. And all of a sudden I am bent like the sinner. Bent. Because I am a sinner. And it seems that no one needs saving more than me. Everything I do today is a failing.
Ann Voskamp wrote, "Stress isn't only a joy stealer. The way we respond to it can be sin." I underlined her words. Maybe they sound dramatic. But I know she is right. I am making the same mistakes, stumbling over the same issues, counting messes instead of counting gifts.
I want to be a good mother - see gratitude in all the moments we share, even the hard ones. But I need His grace to do it. I need saving. And dear one, I am so glad there is One who can.
I slip your bookmark in between the pages and pause over your art. The yellow sun you drew for me flames wild against a blue sky. Your name is written backwards in red pencil and I cherish what it tells me about you. Where you are now.
Sami, Age Four.
Clearing a path through the toys, I return to you, slide your blanket higher, check your skin as you smack dry lips and flutter lashes. Your little body, so limp and contrite, makes me realize I need to go lower, be smaller - like you - accept the gifts as they come, find a way to live more of the joy.
It seems the smaller we are, the larger the joy.
Over the weekend, as we were walking atop a mountain ridge, you asked me if I liked to feel the wind touch my face. I squeezed your hand and said "Yes, I do."
You looked up at me and grinned. "So do I."
I love you Samantha. You are the pure heart I want to have. You are the grace I needed today. And it's funny - l am your mother, but we are both the child. Waiting for wind.
So I touch your face. And He touches mine.