birthdays · · motherhood

Learning Lessons from My Strong Willed Child

Dear Annabelle,

I’m going to need you to come back home.  I know you’re loving hiking with your Marmie on the AT even though it’s wet and cold, but I need you here.

You’re my strong-willed child, for sure, but it’s that strong will of yours that’s teaching me lessons of eternal value.

Did you know that since you’ve been gone, bedtime routine hasn’t happened? It’s because you’re the one who likes order, while the rest of us, apparently, are easily distracted.

I’ve been thinking, too, about how much you love for things to be fair. I’m trying to help you understand that life just doesn’t work that way, that there will always be things that are not fair and that we cannot fix, but have to learn to live with.  Right now, Madelynne thinks it’s really unfair that you are hiking by yourself with Marmie, but I bet you think it’s really unfair I bought her new shoes.  You’re helping me learn not to apologize for when things don’t work out the way we want, and you’re inspiring me to let you learn early on, as hard as it may be, that life just isn’t fair. I don’t want to set you up for the expectation that it is.  I’d rather you get hurt a little bit now, while I’m here to hold you, than later when you’re older and not used to handling all of life’s unfairness.

You’re teaching me that if I want you to learn how to react appropriately, than I have to model that for you. I had a tantrum myself on my recent birthday because unfair things happened, but my reaction only made the situation worse. That’s never what you want to do, and I’m seeing so much of myself in you lately, that I want to help both of us learn now, that our responses to life’s little hiccups say a lot about our deepest beliefs.

You’re teaching me about those beliefs too. You aren’t my child who wants feel good faith. You want concrete, real evidence and you want literal understanding of everything you’re being taught. That’s hard when we’re talking Christian theology and Baptist doctrine to you because you’re only eight years old  today and I’m thirty-four and certainly don’t (and never will) understand everything.

But you’re teaching me how to talk to you in a way that lets Jesus do the work.  Sometimes I want to push you to tell me those words we learn in Sunday School about inviting Jesus into our heart, but you tell me that words and water don’t make you clean, Jesus does. And I can’t really argue with that.

So I dig deeper into the Word and read passages like this:

4-7 But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!” Doesn’t that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you’re also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance.

Galatians 4:3-7 (The Message)

You have such a hunger to know and understand that I don’t doubt the Holy Spirit is working with you.  And when you commit to something, you’re all in, which makes me so excited (and a little scared) to imagine the great things God has planned for your life. I just hope your little heart continues to understand that you don’t have to be imprisoned by laws and rules because Jesus makes you free.

By far you are my most compassionate child. I’m still holding on to the idea that you might be a lawyer who seeks to right social injustice someday, but for right now, you just want to make sure everyone has a Christmas present and if I make muffins that there are some extra to take to your teachers. You believe in crazy, outlandish, uninhibited giving–because you are just like your daddy in all the best ways.

I love you my strong-willed eight year old. You challenge me most everyday, but you’re making me a better mother and a stronger person as I learn that real strength comes with the willingness to say I can’t do it all by myself.

Oh, and since I’m a day late on this birthday post, I’m going to have to write another one about how I brought a you a birthday cake and you gave it away. A love like that deserves its own words.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s