My son came to me the other day and asked me,
"Mummy, can I please have a back scratch?".
This may not seem significant just yet, but it was! You see, our other son has eczema and I am quite literally giving HIM a back stratch everyday. When he is really sore, he can't sit still without scratching until he bleeds, so I gently stratch him without hurting the skin so as to prevent him from doing it harder and causing damage. So, you see it was at that moment that I heard his brother's sweet request and I couldn't help but be convicted. He had been 'back stratch invisible'. He hardly ever got one and he had never asked for one, so it slipped my mind to offer him one, as I am so often giving one to his brother.
So I'm on a mission in my household; to eliminate
But let's back up a bit. How do we miss needs? We are mothers; our sole purpose (especially to little children) is to be there for them and to meet their needs! We answer questions every 45 seconds, we make food, we clean up mess, we bake snacks, we read stories, we even eat standing up sometimes! That is how busy we are! But it is still so easy to miss needs, even when we are meeting them all day long.
*This will apply equally well to spouses, co-workers, friends, so stay tuned if you don't have children!*
We can miss them because they are not obvious needs. I was not aware of my son's want of a back stratch. For him, it just wasn't on my list of things to provide for him. Finding out his need in this case was the result of his verbal request. But oftentimes, we don't get so lucky. If we really want to see our children, we are going to have to search hard.
You may not know where to start. How do I know what they need if they don't tell me?
Here is one way to get you started. You are the only person who's thoughts you can hear. You're going to have your own needs that are not met. So, spend 10 minutes, when you get them, to just sit and think about those needs. Not so you can become melancholy over them, but so that you are aware of them. So that you can see what types of things we shove to the bottom and don't think about. You may really be needing alone time with your husband. Or a chance to go clothes shopping for yourself, without children. Perhaps you really want to be able to do scrapbooking again, learn sign language or just sleep! Perhaps you are really wanting a love letter from your spouse, or a hot bath. Whatever it is, name it..... until you have enough practise seeing those needs you didn't see.
Now, look at each of your children. What is life like for them in your family? What are their 'missing' needs? Is it time with you alone? Is it time with playdoh or paint? Do they really need a back scratch or a chance to get dirty? Do they need you to pray for them aloud? Are they an older child needing more independence or responsibility? Are they your 'go-to' helper, when there are other children capable of pitching in? Do they crave more story-time? Do they want to help you in the kitchen? Do they always get hand-me-downs, and really want just one new thing of their own?
Find out just one need for each child that you can meet. They may never be able to express those needs to you, but do your best to see some of them anyway.
Remember that you will never be able to meet them all, so don't fret about that or get the guilts over it. Just do what you can. This isn't about going crazy meeting everybody's wants or running around ragged trying to be super mum. This is about seeing your children through their eyes. Doing what you can to alleviate those yearnings of their souls that go unnoticed. The deep longings that they never say. Those things that will build relationships, create joy, and honour God in your role as their mother. Going that extra mile to see to it that your children do not become invisible. Because at the end of the day, it is not the paint that will satisfy their souls. It is knowing that mummy knew; mummy knew I needed paint. Mummy saw me. Mummy satisfied my need. I was seen.
And dear sweet mummy, that will be such a wonderous pointer to Christ. The only one who satisfies our EVERY need. Even the ones we never knew we needed. Ask God to show you your children's hearts; to show you your own heart. Pray that God would go before you in this, that He would be the one giving you the insight and the strength to meet the unspoken needs of those in your care.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths" Proverbs 3:5-6
Christ; the only one who sees us as we really are, loved us anyway, and sacrificed himself to meet our greatest need. Praise God!