Kristen is originally an Oklahoma girl but has traveled far and wide with her Air Force husband of 15 years. Kristen and David have 3 precious young’uns, twin sons (age 10) and a daughter (age 7). She is a forever work-in-progress whose current refining location is Colorado. She and 3 dear friends write to encourage at Moms Sharpening Moms.

At two, major separation anxiety had this boy clinging to my leg and crying as I dropped him off in the nursery or childcare room. I had to psychologically gear myself up to attend a MOPS meeting or Mother’s Day Out because I knew the first few minutes would be an ordeal. He would cry because he wanted Mama and no one else would do.

Now I’m the one fighting separation anxiety. While I love the freedom that comes with older children, I sometimes miss their unabashed ways of love-display that came from their preschool little bodies. Oh, I do not miss the crying fits. What I do miss is their bright and blazing way of showing love, like running full tilt and knocking me down with squealing hugs. Or, curling up all snuggly in my lap.

This tall 10 year old can’t fit in my lap.

I am striving to stop neck pain that comes from persistently looking backwards and enjoy my children in the here and now. What I have discovered are many moments – gifts from my Daddy – that show me this child’s love is as real and present as it was when he was very little. The difference is these moments sneak in more subtly. Moments like:

Leaning his head on my shoulder.

Sidling up to me while movie watching.

Asking me what I think about his new Lego creation.

Singing along with me to the car radio.

These love gestures are so small that I may have missed them had I not been looking.

The hallmark of these child-rearing years seems to be tension. Tension from children as they balance drawing close and pulling away. Tension from this Mama who balances her job of embracing cuddly close while encouraging (appropriate) independence.

I wonder if Jesus aches over this tension, too. Balancing our free will with His desire for us to want His presence. It is such a comfort to think that whatever I am feeling, He gets me. He’s been there, done that.

Those of you with young’uns beyond the preschool stage, what love gestures do your children show? Am I the only Mama who thinks they are few and far between ’til I take the time to see them?