The Overflow! where souls are filled and faith is spilled

When You Lose Your Little Boy And Decide to Not Go Looking for Him

I lost my little boy for the first time when he was two-years old.

He’d been bent over the wooden train table at the library when the baby had begun to fuss.

 I’d shifted my gaze from my tow-headed toddler to the infant carrier at my feet, and by the time I’d fished the pacifier out of the diaper bag, my firstborn was gone.

I wasn’t worried at first.

 After all, how far can a little guy bound by bookshelves really go?

I’d grabbed my grousing baby and meandered through a dozen rows of picture books.

I’d scanned the area around the chunky blue table stacked high with wooden-pegged puzzles and had searched the reading corner with the rainbow beanbags.

I’d peeked in every chair lined up by the big computers equipped with children’s games and ear-muff-like headphones. And I’d paused at the check-out counter where the children’s librarian sat smiling.

When I’d circled back to the train table, I’d half-expected to find my boy right where we’d started, his slender fingers pushing Thomas-the-Train around the track while he sang out a high-pitched chooo choooo.

But the train table sat empty, my son’s favorite  blue engine tossed carelessly on the floor beneath it.

After combing every inch of the children’s department, my stomach had begun to grow queasy.

I’d glanced out the window at the bustling downtown traffic and had studied every pedestrian with nauseous suspicion.

How do little boys just disappear? 

Thirty minutes later, after a twelve-person search crew had been rallied and the entire library had been locked down, we found my missing child.

The grey-haired librarian who had paused at the drinking fountain had thought she’d heard singing coming from behind the nearby elevator portal.

And, sure enough, when those silver doors slid open, there was my two-year-old standing inside of the mysterious moving machine, happily pushing all of the glowing buttons within his reach.

When I’d tossed my arms around him and kissed the top of his tender head, my little boy hadn’t even shed a tear. 

Though I’d stood there with knees wobbling and teardrops zig-zagging to my chin, he’d just clapped his hands together and announced with undisguised pride, “I push the buttons all by myself, Mommy!”

Exhausted and relieved, I’d gathered up my little ones and gone home without a single library book.

That was the first time I lost my little boy, but not the last.

When I’d pulled into the driveway of our tiny white rental house after our adventure in the library, I’d vowed to never leave home again. At least not with a toddler in tow.

I had no idea that a little boy could got lost in his own home.

But in the years to come it happened again and again. 

It seemed that every time I turned my head my little boy would disappear.

One moment he was curled up in my lap reading board books, and the next moment he was gone, his gangly legs dangling from the backyard hammock while he lounged with a fat chapter book in his hands.

One moment he was chasing butterflies across the back yard, and the next moment he was chasing baseballs and blue ribbons.

I just turned my head to rock four more babies and mop a thousand spills.

I shifted my gaze from my fast-footed firstborn to my fast-growing laundry piles, and before I knew it, my little boy went missing.

And I didn’t even call for help.

I hadn’t realized he was gone for good until I stood in the midst of clicking cameras and smiling teens last weekend and stared through my lens at a handsome young man in an orange plaid shirt.

And, suddenly, I knew I’d lost him.

The little boy who had picked dandelions for his mommy and searched for dinosaur bones in the neighbor’s yard; the one who had adored Thomas the Train and had fished with his little blue pole in Grandma’s plastic swimming pool—that little boy was nowhere to be seen.

For just a moment as teenagers posed all around me and dashed about the yard with giddy excitement before their eighth-grade party, I felt that sick sinking feeling that I’d had in the library all those years ago.

I wanted to rally a search party and turn back time. 

I wanted to pull my little boy onto my lap and hold him just a bit tighter.

But then I remembered what that wise mama had told me over a steamy mug of coffee long ago as my toddlers played at our feet.

“Motherhood is an exercise in letting go.…”

And when he flashed me that shy smile, his countenance alight with joy, I felt a strange wave of peace wash over my soul.

Because, no matter how much my heart aches, the truth is this: Real love doesn’t cling tighter. It loosens its grip.

If I don’t have the courage to let go, then my boy will have no need to grab hold of the arms that he’ll never outgrow. 

Sometimes a mother’s loss is Christ’s gain.

That prayer I’ve prayed since the day my firstborn was placed in my arms echoed through my mind above the high-pitched giggles of the shiny-dressed girls and the low-roar banter of the squeaky clean boys…

Oh, Jesus, let him seek you and find you.

And as shutters clicked and the breeze whispered through the trees, I pictured my not-so-little son hunched over his Bible that morning.

I remembered the shimmer in his baby blues after a soul-shifting week at church camp and recalled the aching prayers he’d uttered after his week loving on children in Honduras.

And, suddenly, I realized that I didn’t need to rally a search party after all.

My little boy isn’t lost , he’s simply run into the arms of His Savior.

And if this mama’s prayers are answered, that’s where he’ll finally be found. 

Still Counting…

  • 1917. The way he smiles when his little sister hugs his neck and says, “I love you Wukas.”
  • 1918. A dinner with my eighth-grade party date (twenty six years later)
  • 1919. My handsome firstborn ready for a night of celebration with his class
  • 1920. Lizzy, reading her faith testimony to me as we drive into town on Saturday morning.
  • 1921. Emily, who takes time to walk with my daughter and sharpens her faith.
  • 1922. Josh working out his skateboard moves on the driveway, inspired by the XTREME team who shared their faith story and their cool gifts in the high school gym.
  • 1923. A cookie date at Smokey Row with Hannah alone.
  • 1924. The phone call from Kelly filled with possibilities…God on the move?
  • 1925. An invitation to co-host the morning show on the radio as a voice of hope for moms. Crazy adventures while loving Jesus.
  • 1926. Emerald green beyond my window. SPRING is FINALLY HERE.

Happily linking with Ann for multitude mondays, laura for playdates with God, Jen for soli deo gloria and  Jen at Rich Faith Rising, and Beth for Wedded Wednesday and Jennifer for Tell His Story


13 thoughts on “When You Lose Your Little Boy And Decide to Not Go Looking for Him

  1. Oh my….you have me in tears. I have a little boy, he’s 11. And I see him stuck in between little boy and little man. And I so don’t want to lose him!

    April 16, 2013 at 9:31 pm
    1. 11 has been one of my favorite boy ages. Thankfully we loosen our grip slowly. Enjoy your sweet son!

      April 16, 2013 at 11:26 pm
  2. Oh, your mama’s heart! This was so beautiful. 🙂

    April 17, 2013 at 12:16 am
  3. Dear Alecia
    My two boys, actually young men, have also gone away from for university! But there is world living in my heart for each one of them where they will always live. Still it not easy! Over via UNITE.
    Much love

    April 17, 2013 at 12:40 am
  4. Oh how I love your stories. This is just the beginning my dear friend. I can remember tears every Sunday afternoon when my child had to leave to do that college thing for still another week or possibly, but rarely two. Then another child, husband and 2 yr. old son waving goodbye with tears flowing from their apartment yard after moving them 4 hours from home. The list goes on and on but ya know we can’t do everything for all our children, that isn’t what God planned. He gives us much more love, trust, understanding, grace and time. More time for Him for ourselves and our children. His has it/them all and don’t ever forget it.

    April 17, 2013 at 1:11 am
  5. Oh, this is so lovely…the prayer I have for my oldest, just nine, but growing so fast! And for all of my children. This serves as a reminder to enjoy them and pray without ceasing over them. Thank you for this. Wow, you have so much to proud of!

    April 17, 2013 at 3:42 am
  6. My oldest son is 40, my youngest 32, and I tell you, you haven’t lost him. The little boy remains present in the man, and the arms he wrapped around you still reach out. It shows in their eyes. It reads in their gifts. It lives in their fondness for their favorite food that you have made with your own hands. And they will pass that love on to their own children. Through him, you world will get bigger, not smaller. It’s wonderful.

    April 17, 2013 at 12:30 pm
  7. You have an amazing way with words and your writing is such a gift and legacy for your children. It made me cry today. My oldest daughter is married to a worship pastor and my oldest son is 20, in seminary and following God’s call into overseas missions. I can’t hold onto them, but I still weep at the loss in our every day lives. I am so proud and yet so humbled and awestruck at our great God who has loved us through years of parenting adopted children with broken hearts. Watching my older bio kids love their siblings when they were completely unlovable. Watching God mold them into the young adults they are now. Thank you for the reminder that God holds them in the palm of His hand. God bless you today.

    April 17, 2013 at 1:42 pm
  8. This reminded me of the story of the two women who were fighting over the one son and brought their baby to Solomon to settle the dispute. It was Solomon in his wisdom that saw that the true loving mother was willing to let her son go to spare his life. In this case, you’re not letting him go to “spare his life” but to give his life to the One who loves Him with His life.

    Such a beautiful story, Alicia! It reminded me of the times I’ve lost my “youngest” son on many occasions. Some of those kiddos are “slippery little suckers” indeed! ha!

    Thanks so much for linking it up with Wedded Wed! I love your heart here!

    April 17, 2013 at 6:35 pm
  9. Oh, girl. I felt that sinking feeling reading these words. And I have girls, but it’s all just the same — an exercise in letting them go and hoping they find their way to Him, just like we taught them.

    April 17, 2013 at 6:46 pm
  10. I’m praying this for my son, that He will run to embrace the outstretched arms of Jesus in his life as he grows up and develops. This is lovely Alicia.

    April 18, 2013 at 1:16 am
  11. Oh girl, I’m already praying I will be able to let go of my babies! And they’re 8 and 12 🙁 I hope that we are preparing them well for life and will be ready to fly when it’s time, but oh my word will it be hard! Beautifully written, as always 🙂

    April 18, 2013 at 9:34 pm
  12. Alicia,

    (sigh) I am smiling with you and yet feeling that little prick of sentimentality in my chest too, as my oldest son towers tall above me, and heads to college in the fall.

    Thanks for letting me peek in tonight,
    Jennifer Dougan

    April 19, 2013 at 12:54 am

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