We Keep Our Children's Secrets

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 My middle child is my sensitive child.  Sam feels things first.  Changes in his environment, tweaks to his schedule, tensions in relationship - they're all palpable to Sam.  He notices and responds. Whenever I visit with someone I love, I think,

"I hope they get to see the real Sam."

They usually don't.  A new person in the vicinity is just enough change for Sam to holster his magic.  He keeps it close to the vest.

I used to feel sad, because I knew the world was missing out.  It was difficult to know that I had this treasure of a child and that even those closest to me would never really know him.  When you have great joy, you want to share it.  It's why we photograph and Instagram, it's why we call and text and "guess what!"  It's why we shout love from the rooftops.  Sam is the greatest joy, and I so wanted the world to know him.

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But these days, instead of feeling sad , I choose honored.  I've begun to understand that all mothers keep their children's secrets.  I am the guardian of the great joy that is Sam at his most free, most comfortable, most true.  I have the blessed privilege of being the human with whom he feels at home.  It's hard sometimes, to choose honored over sad, because the compulsion to shout him out and show him off is still so great.  So I think of Mary, the young mother of Jesus, who "treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2).

The shepherds were out shouting the glories of God and angels and the infant King Jesus, because great joy wants to be shared, but Mary treasured and pondered.  A young mother, just like me, keeping her baby's secrets.

I suspect this secret-keeping, this guarding of beautiful little selves, is how the universe pays us back for stretch marks.  Oh, did we ever get the good end of that deal.

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(all photos by Brooke Courtney Photography