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Tindell Baldwin »

A Letter to my Threenager


As I looked back in the rearview mirror and saw your big blue eyes it hit me that you looked sad. It was a hard morning with multiple consequences and tears at every corner. The tension to do the right thing or go your own way feels heavy. Childhood can be hard with three little people in our house and us, the people in charge, who need God’s grace just as much as your tender heart. Three is hard, being the middle is hard, sandwiched between two touchy sisters (and the baby who likes to smack you for kicks and giggles) sometimes frustration mounts and you just can’t do what you know you ought to do.

So today as I looked back at your tear stained face and quivering lip I didn’t see a problem I needed to solve or a measure I needed to take. I saw you, in all your humanness, I saw your need for independence and struggle for control. I saw your already wounded heart who needs Jesus just as much this morning as his impatient mama.

I’m sorry I haven’t noticed it more, how hard and harsh the world can feel when you’re just trying to figure it out. I’m sorry I haven’t stopped to hug your little frame when you cry about your sisters ruining your blocks. I’m sorry I haven’t remembered how challenging it is to keep pent up energy…well… pent up, or stay in bed when you aren’t tired, or not to scream in frustration when no one understands.

I was in the middle and I also struggled with a rebel heart that knew the right thing but ached to go my own way, just to have something that was mine. Little one, I’m sorry I haven’t stopped when I should and made sure your heart was OK. I’m sorry I haven’t paused to remember that no discipline is pleasant even though necessary. I’m sorry I haven’t thought about how hard my own growing pains were when I asked you to do better.

So when I looked back today, I looked in silence for awhile and said, buddy, are you ok? Your little head nodded and your lip shook. “buddy you know I love you,” I said. Big blue-eyed tears pooling your cheeks, another nod. My own eyes starting to fill I heard God whisper, “pray for him, your son needs you to pray for him.” All sudden you weren’t just my son you were a person, with feelings, and needs, and a son of a God who loved you.

I did. I prayed right there as the red light switched to green. I whispered quietly as Claire sang at the top of her lungs and Colbie yelled cracker from the back seat. I prayed for you. I prayed for your heart that God would show me how to love you well. I told satan he couldn’t have you. I told the darkness that ensnares our hearts so easily that it wouldn’t win. I prayed God would allow me to raise a son who becomes a man who would bring glory to his father in heaven, a father who cared about him even in the throes of three.

I hope as time goes on you’ll remember the simple words I tell you every day If you can’t do the right thing ask God for help. Until then I’ll keep making sure I don’t just see you as just my son but as a little boy with your own heart, your own struggles, and your own humanity.

Love you


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  • Kelly denbow - Just what I needed today. Our William (6) is smashed between two sisters, one who seems to always make the right choice and the other who is a wild child. I feel like I’m failing him because I don’t know how to handle his responses to me and to his sisters. Pray more….. that’s how I do it! He is strong and gentle, angry and kind all wrapped up into one little boy trying to maneuver this world. Thank you for putting your thoughts into words!!!!ReplyCancel

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