Over the weekend, I had a dream that my kids were little again. That Rowyn was maybe 18 months, and he was crying from another room. I heard him so went to find him, and he looked up at me as he did in reality a million times, saw me, stretched up his arms, and just cried, “Mama!”

In my dream, I scooped him up on the move. I held him close. He stopped crying. But I was still moving, and I tripped. I felt myself going down in that slow-motion way of dreams. My only thought being to keep him from harm. So in typical dream physics, I twisted and bent and held him up and tried to force my mind to put me back on my feet. I couldn’t bear the thought of my baby hurting. I just wanted to make it better. Not be the cause of any more harm.

In reality, while I was dreaming this, we were having a blood sugar battle. The same amount of insulin that usually kept him on the low side of normal had done nothing that night, it seemed, and his numbers were way too high. So I was worrying, and it came out in my dreams. These dreams that were total wish-fulfillment–I just want to be able to make it all better!–and fears–because I can’t.

I woke up with the image of that adorable little boy still in my mind. That mama still in my heart. It didn’t take a degree is psychology to understand why I’d been dreaming about Rowyn as a toddler, when all it took to make the world right was a cuddle in mama’s arms.

Today my baby turns 13. He certainly doesn’t hold his arms up anymore and beg to be picked up, or cry out for mama in that way that says, If you just come, everything will be better. Today my baby turns 13, and I know that life will never be what it was on other birthdays, in other years. He can’t just grin and cut himself a piece of leftover cake for breakfast or eat a spoonful of extra icing for the fun of it. Every gram of carbs that go into his body must be counteracted with insulin. His life will never be what it was before…but it’s all the more precious for what we’ve gone through in these last four months.

As a mother, I’m keenly aware of all I can’t do for him. All I can’t control. All I can’t make better. But then I remember the lessons I would dwell on when he was a baby and a toddler, and I was so exhausted from those constant calls for mama. I remember falling asleep in our old wooden rocking chair, him cuddled in my lap, and realizing that this was how we should approach our Father in heaven. With that certainty that He can make everything right. And that even when He doesn’t change the situation, it’s okay because He has us in His arms.

Do we still have that perfect trust? The certainty of a toddler in his mother’s arms? That calm assurance that the storm doesn’t matter, as long as we can weather it with Him?

Do we cling to that child-like faith even as life wears us out and wears us down? Or do we stop lifting our arms? Stop calling out, “Abba!” the moment we sense something going wrong?

Children grow up. They become independent. They turn into young women and young men with dreams beyond the walls of their parents’ house. And I love watching that process. I love seeing who my babies are growing into. I don’t have to share all their dreams or even understand them. I don’t have to force my own dreams on them. I can just love them and commit them every day to God and trust that even when my arms aren’t holding them, His are. I can pray that they keep clinging to Him long after they stop clinging to me.

So today, we celebrate the birthday that wouldn’t have been, had we lived 100 years ago. We celebrate the first birthday with insulin as our best friend and worst enemy. We celebrate a milestone birthday with injections and carb counting and in a world still shut down with a pandemic. We celebrate with a smaller cake than usual and our only party being hanging out online with friends. But we celebrate with so much joy. Because Rowyn has the chance to keep growing, keep becoming the young man God intends him to be. And we celebrate with that certainty that though mama’s arms can’t fix it all, Abba’s can. We only have to abide there with Him. He may not change our circumstances–but He’ll change us to be victorious through them.

Hold us close, Abba God. And thank you.

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