It’s about 10:30 pm. I’ve finally flopped into my favorite seat in the house; long ago our family designated it “Comfy Chair.” It’s one of those oversized chairs– not a loveseat, not an armchair. One and a half cushions of pure goodness. There are several seating options in our living room, but as any good creature of habit will do, I navigate only toward Comfy Chair. I only had a chance to grab my phone and click on the facebook icon. (what? So, I often fill my downtime with mindless, needless, digital gossip. In those moments, I have a real need to know what masterpiece that girl I went to high school with– who I never really talked to– but she has a couple of cute kids now– created for dinner!)
Before I can even catch a glimpse of the leading post, I hear #2 prancing down the hallway. I don’t notice right away what he’s got in his little clenched hand. I’m too distracted by the fact that he’s obviously been awake this whole time– I thought he was angelically cuddling his favorite bear and dreaming his sweet four-year-old dreams. He jumps in front of me sprawled in Comfy Chair and assumes his most menacing action pose– legs spread, one scrawny hand planted firmly on his hip, the other stretching a crumpled piece of paper as high as a superhero can reach. I’m not sure which superhero he was imagining himself to be at that moment, but it must’ve been the one who wears Lightning McQueen pull-ups and Spiderman socks to sleep in.
A deadly combination, I know.
Fast forward to the part where I am half-dragging the exhausted boy back to bed. It does cross my mind that he may actually possess superhuman abilities, especially the one to detect and demand my attention the micro-second I seem to relax. I take the crumpled paper from him as I wrangle, bribe, encourage, and coerce him back into bed.
(Don’t judge. You have SO been that mother. You were last night. At about 10:35.)
Predictably, I return to the living room and flop back into Comfy Chair. Out of curiosity I flatten the paper out to find the typical scribbled artwork only the parents of preschoolers can appreciate. But I’m shocked to see that across the top of the page is my son’s name in what I can only guess is his own handwriting. He obviously labored over each letter, and to his credit only one of them was upside down. Braden wrote his own name? Since when does Braden write? How did I miss this? Mother of the Year, right here folks.
After much anguish and a revealing conversation with his preschool teacher, I learned later that week that Braden did indeed know how to spell his name and, more than that, had been practicing how to write it for weeks. I knew NONE of this! As a mother who doubles as a reading and writing teacher to junior high students, my lack of this knowledge was unacceptable! My kids are born with exposure to reading and writing from me, the mom-teacher.
Exit stage left.
Cue The Almighty.
God reminded me– ahem, like a slap in the face– that He is filling in the gaps for me as a parent.
Filling in the gaps.
When I’m too tired after a day of teaching eighth graders to be the patient, understanding parent I’m supposed to be to my own three kids.
When Dad is taking care of business being Coach.
When I, as the dutiful coach’s wife, am taking care of business being everyone and everything else.
When we’re doing the best we can, but we don’t feel like it is enough. When our four-year-old has learned how to write his name and it wasn’t because we sat down and taught him.
He fills in the gaps. God brings loving, patient, understanding people into our lives to influence us and our children. Braden was ready and capable of a pretty big milestone. Without me even realizing what his need was, God was already meeting it through his preschool teacher.
What a sweet relief to remember that God will “fill in the gaps!” He takes care of our needs, and bless their hearts, those of the children we’re called to raise. We aren’t called to be perfect. We aren’t called to always have it together. We’re likely to have some near-misses along the way. But in our weakness, He is made strong. We are reminded of His glory and how He really does love us and cares about the little things in our lives when He fills in our gaps.
2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.