Sunday, 17 July 2011
To my 8-year-old on her birthday
You’re the one who started all of this for me, this mothering, this new identity that sometimes seems to swallow all the others whole. We had wanted a baby for a year — more — by the time we learned you were coming, and now (of course) I’m so glad that God had us wait. We had to wait a bit just so we could have you.
You were born sometime after 1 a.m., and I’d already been up for 30 hours in labor with you, but after you were here I couldn’t sleep. While Daddy snored at my side in the little chair-bed, I laid there, mind racing, and I kept propping myself up for another look at you. I wanted to wake you up, to snuggle with you, to disturb you so we could be close. It wouldn’t be the last time.
As a baby, you were the perfect ease-in to motherhood, taking it easy on me (though I didn’t know it until your brother came along, because I was so worried about doing everything right that I missed the fact that you slept forever and everything could be solved by nursing). You soon filled out, getting impossibly chunky with all those rolls and rolls and it wasn’t easy to get into allllll those neck folds during bath. You were happy. We were happy.
I was also terrified.
Not about the big wide world, though those fears would come later, too. I was scared because you had me. (Thank God and baby Jesus for Daddy, shall we just say that now?)
You brought blaring and to the surface all my fears about imperfection and failure. It was one thing when it was just me and Daddy, but now there was you and I was responsible and what if? What if my failures hurt you? I knew they would. I knew I couldn’t protect you from myself, from all the times I would lose my temper, or yell, or shame you when that’s the last thing I wanted to do.
All my fears have been realized, as every mother knows. But what I hadn’t accounted for was grace. A deep, everlasting grace from God who seemed to pour the same gift into you. And we are making it. You make me want to be better, and isn’t that what this life and these relationships are all about? Leaning into the One who has all the answers and all the hope and coming out better, more accepting? I pray that for you, my sweet girl.
Because you. You are brave and loyal and kind and you have a servant’s heart. (Did you know that Jesus did, too?) I’m so proud when you stand up for your friends, and even for kids who aren’t your friends, and my heart nearly bursts when I see how natural you are with Benjamin and Owen, so caring, so protective. You also have a power there that I pray you’ll use wisely.
You have a keen sense of injustice, and I smile when I imagine what you’ll do with that. You are passionate and sometimes explode like your mama, but other times you keep me even, like yesterday when I was frustrated as we worked on your pasta school project and you said, “It’s OKAY, Mom. A solution will come.” I blinked. (Thank you, Mr. Miyagi.)
But that’s the thing. You do teach me things, all the time. You’ve taught me about love and about failure. You sometimes act like a mirror and I have to pick my heart up off the floor because you’re so like me, and I know the struggles coming, but I also know the joy and passion and hope and love. You are a spectacular human being, and I thank God every day that I get to be your mom.
Love you, beaner.