My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow.
She’s excited, as one would expect an almost nine year old to be.
I’m excited too, but because I’m a poor planner, I’m also annoyed. I have a list of things to do while she’s in school so her birthday can “happen” tomorrow night.
She’s at an age where her expectations are simultaneously extraordinary and simplistic. I want a pony and an ice cream cake. I want to go to Disney World and get new nail polish.
Later, I will decorate her room with green streamers while she sleeps. They should be purple (her favorite color) but I hope the excitement of waking up to streamers in her room makes up for the fact they aren’t her favorite color.
Before bed tonight, this child who was six pounds at birth, awkwardly crawls into my lap.
Her increasingly sharp angles and edges try to find a comfortable place to fit into mine. I hold her cautiously; gentle but firm. Like a newborn. I want her to feel secure but without holding her too tight. She came to me willingly and I’m grateful to hold her this close.
I pray for her tonight, more concertedly than most nights, and I thank God for her strong mind and healthy body. For her kindness. I add a request for her heart to continue to stay soft as she gets older.
I’ll do the same tomorrow night, but it seemed like two nights in a row of praying those things couldn’t hurt.
When we finish, I ask her “What’s your birthday wish?”
Head tilted. A pause. “I don’t know,” she says, which we both know is not quite the truth. At her age, when you want a lot of things, choosing one means you may not get the others.
My heart swells. Instinctively, I want to share my own birthday wish for her… but I hesitate…
I want so many things for her, if I say this one thing, does it mean she may not get the others?
Could the One thing be enough?
You know how mothers (I’m sure fathers can do this too, but women do it more often and efficiently) think multiple things in such rapid succession, it seems like we thought them all instantaneously?
- I thought of my maybe-not-enough Birthday Wish
- With our ever-decreasing physical closeness, I also wanted to use the opportunity to tell her ALL THE THINGS she should work on this year! (Responsibility, Gentleness with her brothers, Kind words!) No, no, no. Too pushy.
- Last, I figured I could just hold her silently. I could just let it be…an option that broke my heart. I did not want to let this intimacy pass without saying anything at all.
I don’t have my mother’s words. She cannot wish me Happy Birthdays anymore. If there was just one thing I’d want to hear from her, to know from her, what would it be?
It may not seem like much, but to me, it was everything. And I said it as much for my sake as for hers. I wanted to verbalize it now, and I’ll repeat it often, so she knows it forever…
My wish for you, is that you will know how much you are loved.
(She smiled, but given her age, I think she was disappointed my wish wasn’t also for her to have a pony.)
I wonder if my mom’s heart weighed heavy with each passing year? The joy of growth and life mixed with inevitable separation. Children who need you every minute of every day, until the scale imperceptibly tips and without warning, their need for you wanes as they grow independent.
I can’t help but think how this one child, like me, took a woman from being childless to being a mother forever.
I can’t help but think how close we are to those teenage years when my own relationship with my mom tore at the seams from the strain.
My birthday wish for my daughter, whether I am here or not, whether she wants it or not, is:
my never changing forever love is a part of her.
Is knowing you are loved, enough?
I’ve been wondering: Could this love be the same love God whispers to me? To each of us? Whether we want it or not, whether we allow ourselves to hear it or not? Whether or relationship is strained and tearing, or not?
Is it possible He loves us fiercely, protectively, jealously, rightly, perfectly – and has, before the moment we were born and every moment since?
If I can wrap my head around it, Is this love enough for me?
Like my daughter, I incline towards independence. I rely on myself and bring tension into our relationship. Then, when I want to, I return to God and try to fit all my own awkward angles and sharp edges into Him.
Without using the chance to make us feel guilty or sad. Without You really should work on… Without stoically accepting our presence, He holds us.
All we need to know is there. When we quiet ourselves and return to his arms, it is enough. We know it. We can hear it.
Deeply and desperately, child, you are loved.