Updated: Jan 31, 2020
I was juggling dirty socks, three children's books, a random plastic cup, a pair of boy's pants that desperately needed washing and a toothbrush (don't ask) when I heard it again.
I closed my eyes. How could that one word bring so much joy and so much irritation at the same time? Stepping into my girl's room, I tried to hide my frustration. Each one had been tucked in and we had all said our "goodnight's". I still had so much left to do and I was tired. Really tired. I raised my eyebrows at my daughter and said, "What do you need?"
"Nothing. I just wanted to tell you I love you."
Mom guilt can be found everywhere from Pinterest boards to the hallways in Church but moments when one of my children humbles me with their love - that's when the mom guilt slaps me right in the face. My whole body melted and my throat tightened. I dropped all the junk in my hands and gave her a hug and told her I loved her too... more than peanut butter and jelly and more than every star in the galaxy.
We have been through a lot, my kids and I. Some days I don't even remember being up all night holding them as they cried and soothing them when they had nightmares. Hearing them frantically cry, "Mom, don't LEAVE!" is a distant memory now. God made a way for us to heal and trust together but He also gave us another gift: Laughter.
We have all heard the age-old saying, "I'm your parent, I'm not your friend." Maybe you were told that as a child. Maybe you've said it yourself. I used to be a strict, black-and-white person and I believed that abiding by the parent-not-friend mentality was the mark of a responsible mother. That is not the case anymore.
There was a very long season when my children looked at me with hesitancy. Months went by before I could leave the room without a fearful cry of panic. Many more months went by before they would talk about their feelings openly. Even more months went by before they could sleep alone. When the walls of our home cracked and fell, they had a massive faith crisis much like my own. They doubted me just as I doubted God. They thought I would leave them just as I thought God had left me.
When my view of The Lord is blurred by circumstances, I look at God with hesitancy and I, too, am consumed by fear. I don't see God as my friend, I see Him as my lawmaker and judge.
God is holy and just, yes. God is righteous and all-powerful, yes. God is Lord and Master and Creator, yes. But, He is also our Friend. He delights over us. He is a companion and a confidant. And He extends the gift of laughter to us just as He extends the gifts of peace and hope. He is not a Father who works all day and is too tired to hear what is on our hearts. He is not a Father who is too preoccupied with the game on TV to watch us be silly. He is a Father Whose eye is always upon us, looking at us with love and delight. A way to teach our children who God really is is to mirror Him by creating a relationship that isn't just about rules and roles, but also full of rejoicing and laughter.
Intentionally get on your child's level and act amazed that 2+2 equals 4.
Lie in their bed and make up silly songs and ridiculous stories.
Make a funny face, a funny sound or dance in a way that incites giggles.
Laugh at the squirrels. Dance to music. Make up games. Tell jokes. See the world through their eyes and laugh instead of rolling your eyes. Not only will it reduce stress and calm nerves, but it will unify you and your children together and give them a beautiful glimpse of God the Father.
For more on this topic, study: 1 Chronicles 16:27; Psalm 18:19; Psalm 147:11; Psalm 149:4; Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 62: 3-5; Zephaniah 3:17; 1 Peter 1:6-7;