If you follow me on Instagram you saw this post last week. My boys bopping heads as they looked overboard to see where their thrown sippy cups landed. Pretty cute. Cute like when my firstborn for the first time dropped her sippy cup overboard. “Aw, here you go,” I’d say, “sweet little sugar booger boo. You sweet thing – you accidentally dropped your sippy cup!” You can read that in a squeaky Mom voice. So pleased to have helped my helpless child who had lost her sacred sippy cup, I felt accomplished and humbled as I turned back to the kitchen to eat my own food. THUMP. Squeaky voice says, “OH MY! You did it again.. you sweet thing. You can’t find the high chair tray anymore. That’s ok! Here you go, sweet love.” Patting myself on the back again, imagining my work here as noble as those serving in orphanages, I was glad I could help her again. Back to my sandwich. THUMP. Ok. No more squeaky mom voice. This is interesting. Either she has no depth perception or she is, in fact, doing the unthinkable. She is doing this on purpose. With my firstborn, it took me a while to realize this little truth that was tucked in so neatly to her sippy cup drop – she enjoyed the reaction. I was doing what she wanted me to do. The attention was turned back to her.
When these boys started dropping their sippy cups, I was ready. No more squeaky from mom. I knew mealtime was over when the sippy cups hit the floor.
As a mom of three now, I often find myself identifying with the behavior of my babies. Like when my girl wakes up crying because she doesn’t want to get up. Or my oldest son screams when he isn’t being fed fast enough. Or when my youngest just sits in the middle of the floor crying because he wants to be held. I see all these acts of “childhood” and they get me thinking about how though 30 years separates us and I can drive and cut things with a knife, emotionally speaking, a child’s reaction is simply the outworking of what most adults are doing their best to contain.
We all feel a little lost at times. We all want the person we love the most to turn back towards us and hand us what we want the most. But it’s the “what we want the most” that I have learned is the tricky part. My kids don’t really want their sippy cups back. Because if they did, they would show their happiness by sucking down its contents. No, what they want is my attention. They like the idea that someone is out there picking up their stuff. Bringing it back to them. So they do it again to see if you’re still there. Still listening. Still willing.
Though this begins at such a very young age (pre-1 year old) it lasts a lifetime. The action just changes over time. Sippy cups turn into, say, teasing someone at school so that the other kids like you. If you say this about Cindy, then the rest of the girls think you’re cool. An elementary age gal might drop her sippy cup (say something mean about someone else) to have the cool kids like her (turn back around). Then the sippy cup could turn into say, for a high school gal or guy, taking that first sip of beer, smoking that first cigarette. Trying something new for the sake of getting others’ attention. The dropping of the sippy cup can take the form of anything a person does to get the attention of someone else. To return their gaze back to you. We do this by talking about someone behind their back, we stretch the truth to make sure someone still likes us, we pick fights with our spouse to get them to engage, we drown our sorrows in addictions, we pull the trigger when we feel no one cares. We all drop our sippy cups at some point in our lives. No one wants to feel alone. No one wants to feel like no one is there to pick up the pieces that we’ve dropped.
What I really want to tell my kids when the sippy cups fall. Or the cheerios fly. Or when they stand at my leg and cry or when they have to go to time out because they didn’t listen, is that no matter what, no matter what they do, whether I turn back around or not, they are loved. The truth is that I would bend over 1000 times to return the cup if it meant they knew they were loved. But because my back would hurt too much and because there isn’t enough time in the day, I just need them to know.
We are all loved. There is someone who loves you. Who cares about you. Who wants to hold you when you cry. Hopefully you know who that person is. Hopefully you know so you don’t have to go outside of who you really are for the sake of getting just anyone’s attention. To get attention from someone for something which you don’t really believe can cause a lot of pain in the long run.
This is very hard for some of us to believe, but at our very core, at the center of who we are is love from a Creator God who created you. And though you test the waters time and time again to see who is going to come save and rescue you, there is really only one who loves you unconditionally as you are.
I drop my sippy cup at least once a day. I look for my husband to pick it up for me. I look for friends to turn around and see me. I look for approval. In work. As a mom. As a wife. I drop my sippy cup to make sure there is someone there to retrieve it. But the truth is, and I have to remind myself this daily, is that my hope is in one who is love. God is love. There is no limit to his love. He is always here and even if it seems no one is turning around.
If you are looking for others to fill your needs, give you purpose, give you meaning – you may find it. I believe there are people who love really well here on earth. But they won’t love really well every single time. Which is why resting in an eternal God who loves you as you are – as He created you – can bring you a peace that surpasses all the sippy cup droppings you could ever, ever do.
But God demonstrates his love for us in this, while we were still sinners (sippy cup droppers) Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
We don’t have to pretend. We don’t have to gossip, lie, cheat or steal. We don’t have to dress spectacularly, stay in perfect shape, make more money, go to more Bible studies. We don’t have to do anything to see who will turn back around. He is near… and He loves you just as you are.
Maybe this week we could try holding on to our sippy cups, instead of dropping them, and rest in the fact that we are loved.