I have 4 beautiful children. I remember vividly when my oldest daughter was 16 months old and I was taking her to bed on the eve of my induction for my second born, a boy. My boy was coming and I was extremely excited to A. No longer feel like a whale and B. know what it felt like to have a son. This bedtime routine would be the last I had with my then only child. I held her in my awkward lap thanks to a 9 month old pregnant belly. I held her and read her a story per our nightly ritual then I sang to her “As the Dear”, a song that I carried from my childhood. She knew every word to the song and would reluctantly join me full well knowing the next step was being placed in bed.
I loved this nightly ritual when she was my only child. The hustle of the day had crawled to a halt. The kid was tired of fighting for independence and would just nuzzle content in my arms. I read. We sang. And then I cried and held her tight to my chest this night for just a minute longer. I cried out of fear and simultaneous endearment for this moment. I had fear creeping in because I had no idea how my heart would hold room for my son. I was genuinely perplexed at how in the world I would be able to love him because all of my love resources were absorbed by this daughter of mine nuzzled contently in my arms.
The following morning I headed in for my induction. This child was coming out whether he liked it or not! I remember the nurses swiftly placing Emmitt in my arms and as if a miracle occurred my heart literally doubled in size the moment he touched my skin. It was instantaneous. I had all the room in my heart to love this son of mine with the identical capacity that I had for my 16 month old daughter. Again, I wept. I was ever so grateful and moved beyond words by the sensation of my heart’s massive capacity to love. I will never forget it.
This was a transition period in my life as a mother that brought with it a very important lesson. We have a miraculous capacity to love the people that God brings into our lives. It’s as if the tent pegs of our heart are ever expanding and creating increased space to hold room for those we love and encounter. We are typically able to do this so intuitively for others…. but how about ourselves? How much room do we hold for ourselves?
I have realized lately that I need to treat myself with the same respect, care and tender love that I do my own children. Don’t get me wrong, I want to wring their tiny necks at times and throw them into next week (no, I don’t actually do that). I care for them- deeply. I make room in my heart for their mistakes and attitudes and antics. Despite all the goings on I return to that place of love I have for them time and time again. It dawned on me though that I don’t treat myself the same way. I keep a short leash, a tight expectation and a long list of do’s and don’ts that send me straight to a mental jail cell when I blow it. Why do we treat ourselves this way? Why do we give ourselves a tiny heart to move around in and love others out of a super sized heart?
Heart size matters. I want to love myself with the same double sized love that I do my own children and friends and Amazon deliveries. I have struggles, real ones, debilitating ones. What if after a failure I allowed myself to return to a heart the size of Texas versus Rhode Island every time I take a misstep? I bet I would feel a welcoming, room to mend, and plenty of land to plan my way forward. We HAVE to move the tent pegs of our hearts out wider for ourselves. We seriously have make more room for ourselves. A lot of it. No more big hearts for the world and small hearts for ourselves. Deal?