The prelude music filled the sanctuary, and the congregation stood to sing. A little hand tugged on my arm, and I glanced down to see the my five-year old daughter’s blonde braids swinging from side to side as she bounced from one foot to the other. She motioned for me to lean down so she could whisper in my ear.
I started to give her the mom-eye– you know the one that admonishes your child to be quiet and behave. After all, the church service had barely started, and I didn’t want my child to be the one being disruptive. But that small, quiet voice within me whispered, “Listen to what she has to say.”
I crouched down and looked her in the eye, and she blurted out in a loud whisper, “Mommy, will you hold me? You don’t have to hold my brothers today since they are in the nursery with Miss Sherry. Will you just hold me, please?”
How that plea tugged on my heart strings! You see, I don’t hold her a whole lot unless it’s for stories on my lap or if she has an owie. She has two little brothers, a three-year-old and a just turned one-year-old so my arms and my lap are usually occupied by one of them. Most Sundays all of our children join us in the sanctuary for the beginning of the church service because we enjoy worshipping as a family and want our children to be a part of corporate worship. But for some reason this Sunday I had left the two boys in the nursery after Sunday school so it was just my husband, daughter, and me in the row.
“Mommy, will you just hold me?” Such a simple request with such longing behind it. I didn’t hesitate for a second. I swooped her up and held her tight.
As I held her, that other voice started to pipe up. This time it was the nagging voice of the enemy. “She’s five, what are the other people going to think when you hold her?”
“She’s getting so tall and lanky that it’s not very comfortable to hold her.”
“Don’t hold her too long, or your back pain will flare up.”
It would have been so easy to entertain those thoughts and put her down, but instead, I shoved them right out of my head and focused on the moment—that precious moment when my daughter wanted me to hold her and to let her be little. And there we stood while the music played, and the people sang. I held her the whole time right where I could feel her breath on my cheek and hear her sweet voice singing along to the familiar songs and making up words to the ones she didn’t know. And I loved every minute of it.
In those moments as we swayed together to the music, the reality that she is almost a big kid slapped me in the face. Before long, she will be too big to hold or at least old enough she doesn’t want me to hold her in church. Soon, these years of full arms will be over. These moments are so fleeting.
As the music slowed for prayer time, I hugged her a little closer and whispered my own prayer. I thanked God for the gift of my daughter and her special request. I prayed for the eyes to see my children in the stage they are in instead of always looking ahead. I prayed for reminders to hold them close and to let them be little. I prayed for grace to cover my failings and strength to be the mom they need.
“Mommy, will you hold me?” Those five little words blurted out in a loud whisper were the reminder my heart needed to remember to love my children right where they are. And that is exactly what I intend to do. So if you happen to see me out and about with my children, there is a good chance I will be holding one of them. After all, this time is short, and I plan to make the most of it.