You were sick today. Not horribly sick, just feeling a bit under the weather. You had a headache, your tummy ached, and you felt achy all over. You were just sick enough to need someone to take care of you. What a privilege, what a gift that you allowed it to be me.
You know, before we met you, we tried to learn as much as possible about the best ways to love you. We read books and took classes and researched until our eyes crossed. One of the things that “they” all said was to re-create the childhood dependancy that you were never allowed to experience. “They” all said to meet your needs in a very physical and early developmental way. So what if you could tie your own shoes, comb your own hair, button your own sweater? We should do those things for you to prove to you that we are here to take care of you.
Well, “they” have never met you.
Miss Independent, my child who can and will do everything for herself, my oldest daughter who is very good at building up walls to protect her heart. You don’t need anyone’s help, or at least that is what you would like us to believe, isn’t it Leah?
So today, while you were feeling tired, instead of allowing me to help you….you pushed me away. You were cranky. You laid your head on the table and closed your eyes. You snapped at your sisters and brothers. You refused to answer when I talked to you.
And then, late this afternoon, you grew weary of the fight. After the sixth or seventh time that I asked if you would like to take a warm bath, you finally said yes. You allowed me to draw up the bathwater, test the temperature, and sit on the edge of the tub while you climbed in.
There you sat, hunched forward, head laying on your knees, arms wrapped around your legs…..and you allowed me to run my fingers up and down your back. You allowed me to take a warm washcloth and trail it along your arms. The water seemed to slowly wash away all of your pretenses.
You turned your eyes towards me and asked, “Mom, will you wash my hair?”
I filled the cup with water and poured it through your thick curls, over and over again. I massaged your scalp with conditioner. I used my fingers to seperate each curl. I savored the opportunity to take care of you.
I helped you out of the bath and wrapped you in a towel.
“Mom, will you comb out my hair, too?”
I took my time as I ran that comb through your hair. I hoped you felt my love with each brushstroke.
I offered you ibuprofen for about the 25th time….but this time you said yes. You allowed me to measure out your dose and pour you a cup of water. Then, you reached for my hand and held on tight as we walked upstairs.
I sat on the edge of your bed and arranged the blankets over you. I let my fingertips brush your forehead while I said your prayers.
And then, you patted the empty space next to you and said, “Mom, will you stay here? Right here. Until I go to sleep?”
I lay down next to you and you scooted your pillow over to the middle so we could share.
And then, you turned towards me, you buried your head in my shoulder, and you allowed me to hold you.
As Hannah and Naomi climbed into their beds and the room settled into darkness, I told you girls a story. Nothing special. Actually, it was the story about Dumbo the Elephant. I told you about the circus and the animals and how Dumbo’s mother was so excited to get a baby. And then, how that baby looked different from all the other babies and so the animals made fun of him. They teased him for his differences. And Dumbo’s mother fiercly protected him because she knew that no matter what other people thought, Dumbo was special. But, Dumbo didn’t feel special, did he? He felt different. And he cried at night. And I sang you the song that Dumbo’s mom sings to him…..
Baby mine, don’t you cry
Baby mine, dry your eyes
Rest your head close to my heart
Never to part, baby of mine
Little One when you play
Don’t you mind what they say
Let those eyes sparkle and shine
Never a tear, baby of mine
From your head to your toes
You’re so sweet, heaven knows
You are so precious to me
Cute as can be, baby of mine
I sang this song to Joel when he was a baby. And, then again, I sang it to Hannah as I rocked her to sleep.
But I never had the chance to know you as a baby. I never rocked you to sleep or dried your tears. I never had the chance to take care of you when you really needed to be taken care of.
But, now I can.
And so, in that dark room, I sang you the song and I held you close.
I lay in your bed until you fell asleep. By then, you had rolled over onto your back. But, you reached out and felt until you found my hand. And you held it, fingers intertwined, as you fell asleep.
I hope that soon, you realize the point of my story.
The thing that made Dumbo different, that was the thing that made him special.
You are so special, Leah. God has great plans for you.
And thank you for allowing me to mother you when you needed it. Thank you for holding my hand.