What if I don’t love my son as much as I love my daughter?
The all too familiar question us moms ask while we’re pregnant and awaiting our newest arrival, I was asking my friend, in her kitchen when my son was 16 months old.
It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever said out loud. Admitting it to myself and to another person all at the same time, the question I was struggling with wasn’t a matter of the mother’s love I have for my son – our broken and human attempt at modeling God’s unconditional love for His children. No, the question at the heart of this issue was his personality, his quirks, his uniqueness.
It wasn’t a matter of whether or not I have room for him in my heart, because from the earliest moments I knew our prayers for a baby had been answered, he was ours and I loved him deeply. It was the question of whether or not I would be able to connect with him like I do with my daughter, in a way that was real for him and for me and that we could build on for all of the years ahead of us.
Could I speak to his heart in a way that would build him up as a man and as a child of God?
My sweet baby boy was conceived two short weeks after I had my appendix out in an emergency surgery.
I no more than found out I was pregnant than I thought I was losing the baby. We had no way of knowing since I was only 5 weeks along and a heart beat can’t really be detected on an ultrasound yet. And the midwives were so … medical. “You can try again right away if you did lose this one. You won’t even have to wait.” What? I don’t even know if this one’s ok! I wanted to scream. And cry. But mostly I just went numb.
Numb was a feeling that followed me through my pregnancy as heavy bleeding started again at 13 weeks – just “safely” into my second trimester. The ER prognosis was bleak at best, and the numbness grew.
It grew for 7 more weeks as the bleeding continued. The prognosis improved to uterine blood clot with no known reason or remedy, but it meant my baby was safe and that I was safe.
It grew some more when my water broke and nothing happened so I had to be induced and I wasn’t prepared for what the medical meddling would mean for my sanity or my husband’s. That missing test results meant time in quarantine. That the tiny dose of pain killers would make so tired I literally couldn’t move.
And my newborn baby started to cry. And oh how he cried. All day long I’d hold and bounce him. Feed him. Give him a pacifier. I didn’t sleep for more than a couple hours for a month. An entire month I watched Chopped and Family Feud all night long and tried to pace to keep the baby asleep.
Then my husband was just going to get normal hours at his job and I saw some relief in sight, when he needed to have emergency surgery and be in the hospital for 11 days. I drove over twice a day – during afternoon naps and after the kids were in bed for a couple hours. I didn’t sleep or eat. But the numbness got stronger.
At 4 months when we thought solid food might help our son get some sleep since he’d be fuller, we discovered he had some food sensitivities – to eggs which I ate every morning. No wonder the crying never stopped! So off of eggs the two of us went and the crying and sleeping improved but it wasn’t the magic bullet I had hoped for.
And so, a year and a half later, we are thankful for 3 nights in a row of our man cub not waking up. And we are still so tired. But life keeps moving forward.
And us with it.
And I didn’t realize what the numbness was doing to how I was interacting with my son until I asked that impossibly hard question:
What if I don’t love my son as much as I love my daughter?
What if he never feels like I love him?
What if I can’t speak into his heart and let him know that he is loved or lovable?
What if I can’t build into him as a man?
What if I can’t build into him as a child of God?
As soon as I asked the question, you might think I regretted it. And for a second I probably did. I had just bared down to my soul and asked a hard question that was out there and I couldn’t take back.
But by asking the question, I started seeing and realizing the answers I needed.
I was still numb and had been for so long that it felt normal. I was missing grace. As God loves me unconditionally as His child, He extends copious amounts of grace. And I was missing it. I was waiting for something to “click” into place and for everything to just work. And I was extending such small amounts of grace as I waited.
It finally became cemented in my head what I’ve heard parents say forever. “I love all my kids the same amount but in different ways.” This amazing man cub of mine is growing my love in ways I could never imagined, as my heart gets reshaped for this little boy and his uniqueness.
And regardless of the situations going on around us, I get to decide moment to moment how to speak with him and build on our relationship with grace and love. I can speak to him in a way that’s enthusiastic and uplifting. And if I can’t, I can take a deep breath, wait a second (or minute or more) and then talk to him.
Yes, I still have a lot to figure out about speaking to my man cub as a growing man of God and about what the truth he needs to know as he moves forward; talking to a little boy as a little man is a learning curve for me. But I pray that he never feels that it comes from any place other than love, which will look differently than the love his sister needs, but will have no less strength.
Today, I was on a video chat with some of the most amazingly encouraging ladies I know and they prayed for my mission of motherhood, to raise my kids in a home where Jesus is known and loved and talked about, and for the man my son will become and the woman my daughter will become.
And I want to share in that prayer for all of us.
Heavenly Father, God, thank you for my mission field, right in my messy living room. Thank you for my children and for the joy they bring to my life. God, continue to grow my humility that I wouldn’t think how they are is a reflection of anything I am doing, but rather Your light shining through me. Help me God to grow in grace and unconditional love for the children I have and any children You decide to bless me with later. May I grow every day as the mother that you intend for me to be. Amen.
What about you? What prayer do you have for your mission field? Share it in the comments below.