In years past John Lee has eagerly performed for the camera, fully expecting any picture or video to be uploaded to social media. But these days, as soon as he sees me pull my phone out, he either runs out of the room or puts his hands over his face, as if I were paparazzi. Like any normal parent would do, I have shamelessly begun resorting to bribery. Last week I promised him a trip to Toys R Us if he would let me video him singing “Let It Go,” and it worked. He let me capture one verse of the song, and in return, he got a new video game for his Wii. I guess that might sound a little over the top for such a small favor, but I’ll post a video of him singing on here later and let you be the judge. If you don’t think he’s the cutest thing ever, well…you’re just wrong.
We walked in Toys R Us hand in hand, but after immediately seeing the huge display of Legos and characters from The Lego Movie right as you cross the threshold, John Lee charged ahead to check it all out.
“Do you want some of these Legos, buddy?”
“No-I don’t wanna build anything. I do NOT like to build stuff.”
“Hm. Okay. Well, let’s keep looking, then.”
“And NO SpiderMan stuff, either. I’m just tired of SpiderMan.”
“HUH?! You don’t want SpiderMan stuff anymore?” My heart sank.
“Nope! I’m all done with SpiderMan now!”
“John Lee, when did that happen? You’ve always loved SpiderMan.”
“I don’t know. I just don’t really like him anymore.”
It took me a good 10 minutes to digest that conversation. John Lee has had an obsession with all things SpiderMan since he was 3–maybe even 2 years old. I never understood why he liked that particular superhero so much, but regardless, it made gift buying a cinch. Anything–clothes, blankets, toys–with blue, red, spiders, & webs on it was sure to be a hit with him. To now hear him say that he was basically over SpiderMan was inconprehensible. When did that even happen? I was overcome with a wave of sadness, as if he had just told me not to hold his hand anymore. The “My baby is growing up” reality had just bitten me pretty hard. For him to be over SpiderMan means no more SpiderMans for me to buy. Ever. Or at least until I have grandchildren. What if he never likes any other superhero ever again? Aren’t we gonna give BatMan a shot at being in the spotlight? Are we officially in the video game era already? There we were, treading all over the most overwhelming toy superstore ever, and me looking longingly at the toys he either used to play with or those he was happy to pass up for a video game. I felt like my whole life as a mother was flashing before my eyes. I saw the Thomas The Tank Engine section, where Noah would’ve been hanging out the entire time had I been there with him. I saw the Barney the Dinosaur section, where Ivey would’ve found 10 things she’d want to take home with her. Emma never watched much television, but she loved baby dolls, and seeing that huge display with the countless baby accessories would’ve made her light up like a Christmas tree. All of the Dora the Explorer toys would’ve made it impossible for Abby to pick just one. And now I’ll be looking at the SpiderMan displays, remembering how John Lee could never get enough of him. Ugh. This growing up thing really stinks.
In about a week our family will take it’s 12th annual trip to Disney World for Spring Break. It hit me just the other day that John Lee is now the age Noah was the first time we went there. Noah, an adorable little kindergartener who wore his Heely’s all over the parks at that age, is now a giant 6’1 16-year old. Those years have passed by me so quickly, and I now know that from now until John Lee turns 16 will pass by even more so. And while it is such a joy to see all of my children grow, mature, and become the precious people that they all are, there is a huge part of me that wants time to stand still for just a little while. Just a day. Maybe 2 days. Long enough to let me fully take in every single detail of their lives at this moment. Long enough to absorb the full joy of being their mother right now. Long enough to feel every ounce of love for them my human heart holds. But as God tells us in Hosea 6:3, you can be sure the sun will rise. Tomorrow will come, and I’m powerless to stop it. My kids are going to grow up, and I’m powerless to stop it. SpiderMan is going to get old, and I’m powerless to stop it. It can all be painful to think about. But I take comfort in something else that I am powerless to stop: God’s eternal love for me. And on a lesser, human scale, my love for my children belongs in the same category. Through every single phase of their lives, it is one thing that will never, ever change.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:17-19.