I remember years ago when I realized how much of my job as a mother was ‘watching.’
“MOM! Look! Watch me!”
My children had a way of repeating that — LOUDLY — until my eyes fixed on them, watching them dance or somersault or whatever.
Last week Jake and I were in Spain with all of our family, 15 of us: four daughters, three sons-in-law (one Brazilian, another Ethiopian), and six grandgirls from Spain, Canada, Japan, and North Carolina. It was a tiring-fun week, and interesting, the mix of cultures, languages, personalities, preferences, lifestyles and ages.
No one was clamoring for me to watch, but my role of ‘watching’ continued. And I loved it, watching everyone swim in the fun pools and the Sea, enjoy ice cream, collect rocks on the beach for a ‘beauty contest’, celebrate our Four Fathers (it was Father’s Day) and the grandgirls’ birthdays, crafts and games and books, etc.
I loved watching my daughters serve us all, and their daughters love each other. Nine-year-old H. taught six-year-old R. to swim. Six-year-old F. helped four-year-old I. with her sticker art. And holding and feeding the babies S. and A. who kept waving “Hola.”
It gave me joy to watch it all, like watching a stunning sunset or a world cup soccer game, which we also did.
But ‘watching’ is not just passive.
Not just about me and my joy.
I overheard this conversation between H. and her mom.
H: Mom! Mom! (sister) F.’s hurt!
Mom: What happened? Why is F. crying?
H: We were playing bow and arrows [imaginary].
Mom answered something like this: H, you are the oldest, you know better than to play rough with your sister.
H defended herself: F. wasn’t playing. She was just watching us.
Mom: So … how did she get hurt?
H: Well, R. shot me with an arrow. So I shot her back. Then she died and she fell down on top of F. and that’s what happened.
Like I said, ‘watching’ is not just about my joy. Sometimes, like F., you can get hurt ‘watching’ because real watching gets close to people.
Real watching has a fierce love in it.
I was in the pool with granddaughter I. and I knew I needed to watch her closely because she doesn’t know how to swim. But I got distracted. It was Jake who saw her, floundering in the water, and snatched her up.
I had a hard time sleeping that night thinking what could have happened on my watch.
This week I am in Dallas; my 93-year-old dad broke his hip. It gives me joy to be here, to watch/care for Dad in his weakness and need. And to watch my family gather around — a reunion of sorts — a mix of personalities and preferences and lifestyles coming together to share the ‘watch,’ combining our fierce love.
I like to think about God watching over us. I don’t need to beg Him to watch. He never grows tired nor gets distracted like I do. He watches over us with a great fierce love. He is the God who sees.
And I wonder: does what He sees give him joy?
I think so.