John Henry says the sweetest little “uh-huh” to assent.
Tonight, we are getting ready for his bedtime.
“Do you want to read a book, Bubs?”
We read the book, and he points out the “affe” (giraffe) and then leans into my arms for the wiggle that comes with the worm. After looking at the “shish” (fish) a few more times, we finish.
“Are you ready to go night night?”
“Uh-huh.” And he reaches to put the book onto the dresser.
He snuggles into my shoulder, my neck, one hand clutching his beloved owl, the other with his thumb all the way in his mouth.
I am struck by this moment tonight, and every night. My boy, my son, little enough to still suck on his thumb, who needs a little stuffed owl for bedtime, who wants to lay his head on his mom’s shoulder before I tuck him in.
He is so tender.
Last Christmas, he was still new. Having a little baby by the tree is magical. I thought of Jesus as a small little person, like he was.
But this year, I remember how Jesus was a son. I think of Mary with her little son and the Christmases after as she saw Christ’s own tenderness. One day, he would overcome the temptations of the devil and survive on nothing for 40 days. One day, he would enter Jerusalem as a celebrated hero and one day he would conquer death forever.
But first, he was just a small little boy.
What a privilege it is to be a mother, and to get to know a boy who will one day be a man. I get to see him at his smallest, his most vulnerable. I get to see him hugging stuffed animals and crying over a hard bump on the head. No one else will know him as I do.
Even as he grows up and outgrows me—the goal and sorrow, the joy and hope of every parent—I pray many things for him.
I pray he would be brave as Our Lord who carried his own instrument of torture through the city streets.
That he would love justice like Our Lord who turned over the tables of the money changers.
That he would be self-sacrificing as Our Lord who gave his body to be broken for His children.
That he would be humble as Our Lord who came to earth as a little boy, just as he is.
But most of all, I pray that he would be tender as Our Lord, the Lord who wept at the tomb of Lazarus and welcomed the little children into His presence.