“Never let go, Mommy. Never let go.”
It took my breath away when my youngest said that as she threw her arms around my neck when I picked her up. As she burrowed her head into my neck, she kept whispering it with her warm cheek pressed firmly against mine, and her little hands grasping my hair.
Never let go.
Considering how she came to be our daughter and all that occurred in the months after we completed her adoption, her words are especially poignant to me. And as our youngest of six children, the eldest of whom will be leaping out of our nest and flying to college in a little more than a year, I’ve come to appreciate how fleeting this season of life is.
“Watch me mommy! Watch me!”
“Kiss my owie.”
“I love you soooooo much!”
I have my regrets, if course. There are the nights that I replay my mothering failures over and over in my mind. I regret wishing the time away as I dreamed of the day that our first daughter through adoption would finally arrive home, although I already had another daughter who needed me to be fully present in the moment. There are the regrets about the times I didn’t take her up on her invitations to partake in making a craft with her, until the painful day it dawned on me that she had stopped asking. And there are the regrets about yearning for peace and quiet when she was a chatty toddler, but now wishing fervently for her teenage self to sit and talk with me.
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
– Psalm 90:12
But with those regrets have come awareness, and with each of my subsequent children I have strived to appreciate the sanctity of time more and more, and to trust in its power to heal.
The day that the first hug is received from a child who has struggled with attachment shows that power.
As does the day that the child who did not speak for his first two and a half years home at last articulates his thoughts.
And a particularly poignant illustration of the power of time was the day when our child on life support received a respite from death through the gift of a donated heart.
Never let go.
After she uttered those words, I felt compelled to find a way to honor them and the gift of time, for I know that this season will pass all too quickly. So I have chosen to hold onto the sacred embraces of my children for as long as I can in a very simple way: I no longer break the embrace first. I hold on, I never let go, until they release the hug.
It has been glorious!
There have been so many precious moments of affection, forcing me to slow down and savor those fleeting times between mother and child. Everything else can wait.
I know that in time I will look back with nostalgia on these incredible days of childhood. I will yearn to hear their voices and the sound of their bare feet running down the hall. I will miss the echoes of their laughter emanating from our yard, and wiping their popsicle-stained faces in the midst of summer. And I bet I’ll even miss cleaning up their spills and reminding them to wash their hands and brush their teeth for the umpteenth time.
And I know that I will never, not even once, regret never letting go.
– image by Tish Goff