Messy ponytail...glasses slipping down her nose...giggling smile on her face...my heart skips a beat at the sight of this girl child...
I read an article today about a woman who was a 'weekend mom', whose ex-husband had custody of their daughter. The woman wrote about how this was the best decision for her daughter and then began to list all the ways it was better for her own life. It was phrased very eloquently, but what it essentially boiled down to was this: there was no "inconvenience" keeping her from going out drinking all hours of the night, traveling wherever she wants, and staying up late talking with various friends. I found it sad that the life of her daughter was boiled down to an inconvenience. And I thought that perhaps her daughter's life is better, despite this woman's primary concern being only herself. I also wondered if this little girl would feel the suffering effects of a mother who wants only the fun parts of motherhood and is unwilling to suffer through the hard.
She snuggles up against me, emotions spent after having an argument with the cat. She's just returned from ten minutes pouting in her room and I hold her close, feeling my precious firstborn still yearning for the comfort of her mother's arms. This girl and I, we've been through the good: birthday parties, Christmas, trips to the beach, reading the Ramona books together as we laugh over her escapades. This girl and I have been through the hard stuff, too, stuff I can't shield her from.
My firstborn girl child, oldest of four, still living as an only child after seven and a half years. She'll be almost eight before my fourth child makes an appearance in this world. Two babies lost, not just to me or my husband. Two babies lost to the little girl who has been excited about having a sibling since she was three and her little friend Sophie was getting a baby.
This eldest daughter of mine has seen three siblings on the ultrasound screen. Her sister Faith did flips and waved at her twelve weeks into pregnancy. Five weeks later, the older sister holds her baby sister's lifeless body in her arms. It is Christmas Eve. Three months later, on her seventh birthday, she will see the body of her second sibling on the ultrasound screen, lifeless once again.
This child rapidly growing up too quickly for me clings to me as I comfort her. Despite the traumas she's experienced, she finds herself hopeful for this new baby. She clings to her faith in God, childlike and leaps and bounds ahead of my own faith simultaneously. I hold her tight in the arms she knows to be a safe place. I hold her tightly against the struggles of this life, even something as simple as an argument with a cat over a box.
At the same time as I hold her tightly, I must also hold her loosely. She is not really mine. She is a gift, loaned to me for a time. If there's anything I've learned from losing two of her siblings, it's that my children are not always going to be with me. Whether she moves away for college, gets married, moves off to a foreign country to minister to the world, or when that time comes that one of us goes to Heaven while the other is left to wait here on earth...there will be separation. Because she's not mine. She's His.
She belongs to the Lord she gave her heart to almost exactly two years ago. She belongs to the Lord she gave testimony to as she stepped into the baptismal waters, dying to sin and rising up to new life. She belongs to the Lord she knows so much about...much more than me when we have theological discussions. She belongs to the Lord whom she accepts with the most childlike innocence, despite the trauma life has brought.
She's not an inconvenience. She's a complex, beautiful, intelligent child and as I type this I watch her head poking out of the box of a microwave we bought two months ago. I can't help but pray the years don't pass too quickly. But I know better. The first seven and a half have already gone too quickly. So I hold her tightly when she's snuggled up in my arms. But I have to hold her loosely, too. Because she's not mine.
She is the adopted princess of the King.