Song of Affirmation

When Julia was born, I received a bookshelf full of parenting advice. I was given books about breastfeeding, books about discipline and books about raising children with healthy self-esteem.  One of the books talked about the importance of verbally affirming your child, from the very beginning of their life. Being a musical person by nature, I took the affirming sentences that were listed in the book and put them to a tune. The song goes like this:

“I love you. I want you.

I’m glad that you are you.

You’re special. You’re important.

And I’m so glad you’re here.”

I sang it during feedings as Julia, and later Zeke, would look up at me with their eyes full of innocence and wonder. I sang it during diaper changes, as it seemed to bring comfort on the often chilly changing table. I must have sung the song hundreds of times. Years have passed since I first began singing it.  Julia and Zeke are now almost 10 and 6 years old. Baby rooms have given way to big kid rooms. Furniture has been replaced, wall colors have changed, and old clothes have made way for new clothes many, many times. But the song has endured. The song is a part of our tuck-in ritual at night. For Zeke, it is even more important than the bedtime story!

“Mommy, I’m ready for your song!” he will loudly request from his bed when he is ready to go to sleep. Although Julia is quite grown-up now, having lived nearly a decade, she still pays attention, closes her book and looks up at me while I sing. Sometimes, they are silly during the song. Julia occasionally makes tooting noises with her mouth during the rests. Zeke sometimes cannot bring himself to stop playing the Leapster. But, I know they are listening. It is my hope that the words are sinking into the vulnerable places within them, as we all have those places.

There are a multitude of moments in raising children that you don’t realize are important or powerful until you review them years later, in hindsight. But this song, well, I know the power within it, even as I sing it. Because no matter the situation, what bad choices may have been made during that day, I sing the song. I have sung it over each of them as they lay in the bed with fevers, with runny noses, with bad breath. I have sung it to them after giving consequences for misbehavior. The power comes in this: the words never change. Just as a mother’s heart never wavers in her love for her children. The song is as much about grace as it is about love.

Recently, I sang it through tears. Julia’s conduct grades had gone down this past  six weeks as a result of her talking in class. One of the school’s consequences for a low conduct grade was her removal from the school’s choir. We had diligently made every early morning rehearsal. To add insult to injury, she was only one week away from the Christmas concert. I was beyond disappointed, as choir was a love that we shared. Our family crest may as well be a treble clef! I was in choir. My mom and dad were in choir. My grandfather was a song leader and sang in a small performing group. We are a family of singers! And now, she was not. As I began the song, the words flowed freely along with my tears.

“I love you.”

“I want you.”

I’m glad that you are you.”

I paused for a moment to collect my thoughts. “I’m glad that you are you.” If I could change her, would I? Wouldn’t it be easier if she were more like quiet Lauren down the street, or  eager-to-please Sally or introverted Mary or. . . someone else? No! Because for better or for worse, she is a beautiful mixture of me and of Michael. And, she is still becoming the woman that God will guide her to be. She is uniquely equipped to be. . . Julia! I looked her in the eye. I did not try to mask my disappointment in her behavior or the consequence. But, I continued to sing. Until all the words were done.

“You’re special. You’re important. And I’m so glad you’re here.”

Indeed.

As I wiped the tears from my cheeks and leaned down to hug her, we shared a gift called unconditional love.

Don’t you wish you had a song like that? You do, you know. The first chapter in my book is called “Children of God”. In it, I am reminded that just as I love my children, I am, myself, a child of our heavenly Father. And you are too. The Bible talks about Him singing, over me and over you!

“The Lord your God is with you,

he is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,

he will quiet you with His love,

He will rejoice over you with singing.”

(Zephaniah 3:17)

He delights in you. Did you catch that? No matter what your day looked like. No matter what you may feel like. No matter what others may have told you about yourself. No matter what you believe about yourself. No matter.

So tonight, as you climb into your bed, cuddle up in your blanket the way you did as a little child.

And listen.

I love you. . .

Category: Uncategorized | 2 comments

  • Deanna Love says:

    Beautiful! I spoke with someone tonight who needed encouragement. Later I prayed for her — and for me to find the right words to say to her. The Lord led me to this entry of yours. I will send it to her. Thank you and God bless you.


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