More and more often as I lock in the embrace of this precious 8 year old, I will her to never become a teenager – to never grow big enough and not be able to hug in this exact way.
Sometimes she has the moodiness and attitude which rivals that of a teenager, but those hugs – oh her hugs! They are one of a kind. They are as routine as the sunrise and as strong as a vice. Upon waking, our departures from one another in the mornings, our reunifications in the evenings, when she’s tired or hungry, saddened or lonely, bored or excited, all these times and more she connects her outstretched arms around my waist and buries her face straight into my stomach.
Physically, it’s difficult to hug back in these moments – not because I don’t desire the embrace – but simply because the 2 feet difference in height that separates us. Instead I rub her back and gently stroke her hair out of her face validating the open invitation she has to this place. She’ll then look up at me, locking her big brown eyes with mine, and whisper…“Mommy”… with nothing more to follow than that one simple word. Perhaps she knows how much this simple act – that simple whisper – speaks a hundred different sentiments to my heart.
Or maybe she just can’t produce any other words to appropriately describe how she is feeling.
Most days, I feel like she could stay in our embrace forever. It’s where she knows she is safe and always be welcomed in – never turned away.
This is where I find myself yearning for more of her younger years….I imagine holding her as a toddler – maybe even as a baby, teaching her to read, listening to her play in the bathtub, dressing up like a princess, and playing endlessly with her dolls.
These thoughts, how ever true they may be, can drive my heart down dangerous paths so I dare not vocalize those desires as I know it would only validate a similar desire in her own heart.
Her heart doesn’t have the ability to fully understand all that has happened. Her heart is tender and new. Bonds that are typically formed in the first weeks of life are attempting a new connection. Right now, as with a newborn child, eye contact and physical touch are of greater value than words.
It’s not that we want sweep these desires under the rug or not acknowledge them, we must bravely recognize this is our story. This is where we begin.
Our story has just begun. And while it doesn’t include the first 8 years, it does include the rest of her life. It means that although I didn’t lay the groundwork and teach the fundamentals in her life, I was chosen to shape her future. And to me, the most beautiful part of this story is just that. God has handed me a pen, asking me to help write her story. What an honor.
Every day, a new page is written. Some pages are painfully written, hard to read, and just plain sloppy. We both desire to rip those pages from the binding and pretend they were never there – but they are always there. And they are essential to our story, like it or not. Other days are so beautifully written even the penmanship is like a gorgeous portrait. Those are the days you want to frame and hang on display for all to see.
No matter which chapter we are writing we will continue those fiercely loving hugs that illustrate a picture only our eyes can see. I will cherish these hugs as long as I can. I will hug fiercely back, cognoscente that these are no normal hugs. These hugs are laying down a new foundation of our love – of our story. Brick on brick, line by line, hug after hug.
And this pen that has been bestowed upon me rests in fragile hands. I am no writer without my Lord and Savior, Jesus. I can be equally as guilty of emotionally self protecting, disconnection, and mistrust because of the lost years between us. But being a Brave Parent means I acknowledge the longing of the lost years but trust that every new story that is written in surrender to Christ includes beautiful redemption.
And that always, always makes for a good read.