These things have happened so frequently that it had me wondering for a time: Did the boys mark me somehow? Could they have written on my face, in some invisible code, a message that only children can read: "Mother of many. Sympathetic to little ones. Attention available here?" Was it possible?
This morning I ran out to pick up some wine glasses. We had dinner guests coming. I wanted to run the errand quickly and since little boys and stemware don't mix well, I went alone. As I stood in the aisle picking and choosing and changing my mind, I became aware of a little girl with her mother beside me. I smiled at the girl and she smiled back. I looked at the wine glasses and then back at her. Her huge brown eyes met mine and she laughed, shaking her curls. As I continued to choose my glasses, we exchanged many smiles and when I had finally decided my purchase, I waved goodbye. My new little friend waved back.
In the parking lot, as I was walking toward my car, I caught sight of a little boy sitting in the back of a moving vehicle. He looked out at me through the tinted window and gently raised one hand in greeting. I raised my hand, too. Each of us watched the other as his van drove away and out of sight.
It was then that I realized that my boys have marked me, though not with a message written in words. With their sweet faces and little ways, with their pure hearts and tender feelings, they have marked me. They have shaped me and molded me to be patient with their stumblings and sympathetic to their affections. They have trained my ears to listen to their tales, so exciting to them, that they wish to share. They have trained my eyes to look with wonder upon the beauty of their simple little world. They have shaped my heart to love what I see and hear from them. They have shaped me.
My boys have molded my arms and my life to be so full of themselves that whenever I am alone (however briefly) I am looking for them. I see them in the face of the little girl in the store. I see the likes of them in the little boy in the back of the van. It is me that reaches out to these other children--stealing a glance, offering a smile-- and they respond readily and affectionately, as children do.
Yes, my boys have marked me. They have shaped, pounded, molded and formed me and they will continue to work me as God has intended-- stretching my patience, softening the hard places in my heart, pushing my hopes and desires beyond myself, and kneading me until I learn to rely ever more fully and constantly upon Him.
Amen, I say to you, unless you become converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever that shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of God. And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me. --Matthew 18:3-5