On a very hectic day when my husband and I were busy going in a hundred directions, our four-and-a-half-year-old son, Max , had to be reprimanded for getting into mischief. After several attempts, my husband finally told him to stand in the corner. He was very quite but wasen't too happy about it. Finally, after a few moments, he said, "I'm going to run away from home."
My first reaction was surprise, and his words angered me. "You are?" I blurted. But as I turned to look at him, he looked like an angel, so small, so innocent, with his face so sad.
As my heart felt pain, I remembered a moment in my own childhood when I spoke those words and how unloved and lonely I felt. he was saying so much more than just his words. He was crying from within, "Don't you dare ignore me. Please notice me! I'm important too. Plese make me feel wanted, unconditionally loved and needed."
"Okay, Max, you can run away from home," I tenderly whispered as I started picking out clothes. "Well, we'll need pj's, your coat....."
"Mama," he said, "what are you doin'?"
"We'll also need my coat and nightgown." I packed these items into a bag and placed them by the front door.
"Okay, Max, are you sure you want to run away from home?"
"Yeah, but where are you goin'?"
"Well, if you're going to run away from home, then Mama's going with you, because I would never want you to be alone. I love you too much, Max."
We held each other while we talked. "Why do you want to come with me?"
I looked into his eyes. "Because I love you, Max. My life would never be the same if you went away. So I want to make sure you'll be safe. If you do go, I will go with you."
"Can daddy come?"
"No, Daddy has to stay home and has to work and take care of the house while we're gone."
"Can Tuffy ( his dog) come?"
"No, Tuffy has to stay here too."
He thought for a while and said, "Mama, can we stay home?"
"Yes, Max, we can stay home."
"I love you."
"I love you too, honey. How about you help me make some popcorn?"
In that moment I knew the wondrous gift of motherhood I had been given, that the sacred responsibilities to help develop a child's sense of security and self-esteem are nothing to be taken lightly. I realized that in my arms I held the precious gift of childhood; beautiful piece of clay willing and wanting to be cuddled and magnificently molded into a confident adult masterpiece. I learned that as a mother I should never "run away" from the oppurtunity to show my children they are wanted, important, lovable and the most precious gift from God.