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We Keep Our Children’s Secrets

 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.

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.

(all photos by Brooke Courtney Photography

  • Jessica Honsalek

    This is beautiful. So true. And it makes me want to have another baby haha

  • Sandra Conner

    Absolutely true! As his grandmother, I occasionally get to see the real Sam but it’s just like Kate says, when he is in his mother’s presents he relaxes and when he hugs her he gives to her what I can’t pry from him, absolute trust. He doesn’t have to worry about his surroundings and strangers because she is there!

  • Kelly Griffin

    He’s so handsome!

  • Ky from

    Sigh. So well said. My oldest is an introvert. I’m not. I read books to try to understand her better. I struggled with others not knowing the “real her”. I stopped pushing, because even though I adore her, I was pushing her to “come out of her shell” so that others could see the coolness and the magic and the kindness and the sweetness that was her… but slowly and surely, she’s started to show the “real her” to a select few. And during those moments… I couldn’t be more proud. Not because she’s stepping out of her comfort zone, but because she’s feeling confident enough to let her light shine.

    These little people are such gifts.

    Sam is a doll and this tribute is lovely and fitting. Thank you for the reminder that we are our children’s secret keepers… just like Mary.

  • Lesley

    Thank you for this post, Kate. It’s exactly what I needed to read today. Being a mama is hard…but oh what joy it is to know a little person in the way no one else does.

  • Denise

    I feel this way about my husband. He’s so wonderful and silly and funny, but VERY few people ever see that side of him. I’m honored that not only does he show me that side of himself, but amazingly (by God’s great goodness) I seem to inspire that magic in him.
    Thanks for helping me realize the gift of his comfort around me.

  • Pingback: Surviving Parenthood | Kate Conner

  • Jaclyn Kent

    I love this! My son is the same way. I will forever feel honored to know all sides of him.