Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Em Erickson’s blog, Teach Me to Braid. It has been republished here with permission.
If my child marries yours …
I just want you to know that I’m praying for you.
When I’m awake at night – feeding babies, burping babies, giving Tylenol to a feverish toddler, covering up chilly toes, tucking green monkeys under little arms – I think of you. Because chances are, you’re awake too, doing the same sorts of things. Taking care of tiny children that I already love because they will someday hold the hearts that are beating against my chest tonight.
I’m praying that you’ll stand firm against the pressures to overcommit and hyper-schedule, that you’ll shut out the voices that tell you you’re not doing enough, that your kids aren’t doing enough.
I’m praying you’ll have the wisdom to know when to pick that crying baby up out of her crib and when to just sit outside her door, your fingertips pressed to the wood, willing her to feel your love and comfort and just finally fall asleep.
I’m praying that you will take those children to church … that the mothers and fathers of our future grandchildren will grow up knowing what it means to worship, even when that means missing out-of-town basketball tournaments and marathon sleepovers.
I’m praying that your love for and commitment to your spouse will swell with each year you’re together, that you will grow to love the legacy you are creating just as much as you adore the person you’re creating it with.
I’m praying that you take lots of pictures so that I can see where our grandchildren got their sticky-out ears and their mischievous grins.
I’m praying that Jesus will give you just enough strength each day to keep you from losing it but not so much that you forget who that strength comes from.
I’m praying that we will be friends.
Will you pray those things for me too?
I don’t really pray for your child. Maybe I should. My husband does that, and I think it’s wonderful. But chances are, your child is just fine. And chances are, a lot of the time, you aren’t. Chances are, if you’re anything like me, you’re very tired. And some days, you get so discouraged. Sometimes, your temper erupts, your selfishness wins, and your smile is fake. Sometimes you forget to change the baby’s diaper, to spend time being silly with your toddler, to really see your spouse. So it’s you I am praying for right now, in the still darkness, with this baby fist pressed up under my chin and this sweet, sleepy breath on my ear. May you feel these prayers when you need them the most. We are in this together, you and I. We are building something beautiful with each onesie folded, each invisible owie kissed, each story read. You don’t know how much it means to me that you give your children everything you have every single day … even on days when it’s not much at all. Because your child will fall asleep next to mine for fifty-some years. Your child will be the one holding my child’s hand when our first grandchild is born. And when they face the darkest days of their lives, it will be your child and mine, facing into the struggle together.
I’m pretty sure that our longest days – the ones that are brim-full with hair-pulling moments, impossible messes, and toddler meltdowns – those are the days that we are fashioning hearts. And someday, one of the hearts I’m helping create will crash into one of your love-crafted hearts, and what spills out as a result of that jolt … it’s kind of up to us. I promise to tend to these hearts with utmost care, to plant in them humility and peace and selflessness … especially selflessness. I promise to plant Jesus seeds in these hearts every chance I get. And I promise to keep praying for you.
I’m praying that you will hug your boy tight when he’s sad or lonely or scared. Because someday, my girl – all grown beautiful with babies of her own – will be sad or lonely or scared. And he’ll need to know how to hold her. Teach him.
And let your daughters hear you speak righteous words that bring life and hope. Because someday, my sons will be worn and weary, and the words you’re placing in your daughters’ minds today just might become the balm to my sons’ souls.
I’m doing my best to do the same. And sometimes … much of the time … I fail. Pray for me too.
Someday we will sit on opposite sides of the aisle … all fancy and with gobs of tissues tucked into our fists. We’ll watch our silly, sticky, sweet babies somehow transform into brides and grooms and make the same promises to one another that we ourselves have kept…against all odds and only by His grace. And we will watch these children create families of their own with the ingredients we have given them. The ingredients we are slipping into their souls today.
But until then, I’m sitting here in the dark with babies in my arms.
And I’m praying for you.