“You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.” Psalm 139:15 NLT
When my children were young, we lived in an area with a community pool. The kids and I would schlep there, the car a container of wiggling bodies, pool toys, and towels. Sometimes Penny, our saved from the dog pound pooch, would trot behind the car and follow us for the three blocks it took to arrive.
The older kids would peel themselves off the car seats and dash in. Shannon and John would do the barefoot-on-the-hot-concrete-alternating-foot-high-step while I totted Sarah. Eventually, we’d locate a spot to accommodate us–generally, the people who were already there were happy to clear out–and we were ready for splash down.
While I’d be crouching in the baby pool digging wet leaves out of John’s mouth or trying to stop Sarah from drinking the pool water, a chorus of “Watch me, Mommy! No, watch ME, mommy!” Watch this, MOM!” would rise from the shallow end of the big pool. It was like being at a tennis match, with three balls in play at one time. I’d glance at the two kids hovering around my ankles (which looked three times their normal puffy size through the water, my ankles–not the kids), then I’d quickly look up and start counting heads. If I could not find Head #3, I’d be sliced open by a bolt of panic. Which one? There’s Michael. There’s Erin. Okay, where is Shannon? I’d scream at her siblings to look for her. After their eye rolls, they’d point to the steps. And there she’d be. Her pink “babing” suit clinging to her wiry little body, her blonde hair looking pre-pock rocker in its just surfaced from the water wetness. She’d smile at me, and I’d be drenched with relief.
Reading that passage in Psalms reminded me of those days of being the watcher. Sometimes I miss that. They’re older now. But I wonder how many times, in their adult lives, their hearts have called out, “Watch me, Mommy.” Watch me as I struggle with friendships and dating, as I graduate from high school, as I pretend to be happy when my dream is crushed. Watch me, mommy, as I start college and face challenges of independence and working; watch me as I begin to learn who I am. Watch me mommy as I go to Italy with the Navy, as I get married, as I move to another home. Watch me, mommy, when my son dies, when my daughter is born. Watch me, mommy, take the steps you’d knew I’d have to take all along–those steps to self-reliance and trust and hope and faith.
Watch. To keep vigil. To guard. To protect. Watch me, God. Watch them.