Scientists attribute my behavior to pheromones. I take a strange comfort in their label. Apparently I'm not a freak mom. I'm just a regular mom in love with my squishy little man.
Today I watched in awe as he army crawled the length of the house, methodical and determined, like a tiny explorer. The carpeted floor an undiscovered continent of doggy dishes and hidden dust bunnies. Each treasure looking more delicious than the last.
Sometimes I hold him close just so I can get a whiff of sweet potato burps and baby shampoo. When he's happy, his whole body smiles—arms and legs dancing a rigid bounce, mouth grinning a two-tooth grin. And perhaps my favorite, the sound of his voice—his surprisingly boy-like baby voice—squeeling out delight. It doesn't take much—a short round of peek-a-boo, his sissy's big purple ball, a dog within arm's reach, a chance to show off in his doorway jumper—his joy is an easy joy.
Every mom wants her child's life to matter more than her own. I look at Malakye's chunky thighs and see a future linebacker. He bops to music and I imagine a dancer or a pianist. I tossed him that big purple ball the other night as he sat in his high chair. Over and over he caught it with amazing consistency. So I did what lots of mom would do, I started imagining his baseball career. Oh, and of course he's going to be brilliant, like rocket scientist crazy brilliant. Of course.
I like to talk about unconditional love. Yet my flesh clings to a different kind, a love I've worked hard my whole life to attain. A pat on the back. A compliment. High marks from a teacher, a boss, a parent. For thirty years this love has defined me. It's there in the high times but dormant in the broken ones. It leaves me drained and anemic and desperate for more. I dish it out when my kids are happy and take it back during tantrums and back-talk and teething pain. It's my default love. And it is not of God.
What if the first thing I saw when I looked at Malakye was a boy after God's own heart, not a future baller or maestro or straight-A student? What if instead of dreaming my own will about his life I began praying God's will over it? If I prayed that he never be defined by the gods that say ,"I love you because you're smart or strong or successful (at anything)" but instead by a God who always says, "I love you. Just because."
A few months before Malakye was born (before we knew his name or that he was even a boy), a dear friend of mine had a dream about him. He was a young boy in the dream, about ten years old, and already strong in his convictions of right and wrong. Unwilling to compromise. Sure of his identity. Sure of His God.
She kept the dream to herself until a he was a week old. I read Psalm 24 the evening she told me about it. God nudged me that night, and I began praying it over Malakye's life:
"Who may ascend the hill of the LORD ?
Who may stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false.
He will receive blessing from the LORD
and vindication from God his Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, O God of Jacob.
Lift up your heads, O you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in."
Happy eighth month to the tiniest, squishiest man ever to make my heart race—my army crawlin', delight squeelin', chubby-thighed Mister Malakye! I love you forever. Just because.