This girl. The one who made me a mama, who looks exactly like me as a child, who makes me laugh, who has made me cry, who I love more than the world. Harper Kristin, the stories I will tell about you someday…
Permission to speak freely? This week was rough. Three out of five days Harper has put her little size seven foot down on naptime, and by 5:00pm we have both been a hot mess. The last two hours of the day became a bit of a battleground: mama versus two-and-a-half year old, wisdom versus will, maturity versus independence. Well, the battle should have been those things but I submit that it is all too easy to act like a two-and-a-half year old myself and throw maturity out the door for the sake of winning, and winning quickly.
On Wednesday night I put Harper to bed early. Still in her Elsa gown, teeth unbrushed. She did not get a book that night, as I explained to her she did not have a kind heart and she was speaking with disrespect to her mama. Those things do not get privileges in this house, they have consequences. That, and I simply could not parent any longer that day. Straight to bed it was. I put the blanket over her, said I love you, and shut the door behind me. And then I came upstairs and cried a little. Because gosh, being a mama just takes every bit you, physical and emotional, doesn’t it? I texted my husband, who responded perfectly with encouragement, reminded me that the worst behavior of a two-and-half year old does not indicate at all what their best behavior as and adult will be, and told me I’m the best mom for her.
And then, I prayed. I prayed for forgiveness for myself. I prayed for Harper, and for Cannon, not that they would be perfect children but that they would see the way God loves us and love him in return. I asked God for wisdom as I raise my little Harper girl, that her heart would be brave and tender at the same time, that her will would be strong—just like God made her—and submissive to godly authority as well. I actually prayed myself to sleep, because evenings like those remind me how very incapable I am of raising children without Jesus.
What happened in the morning… I could not make this up if I tried. After a great night of sleep, I hear Harper calling for me from her room. I went in with my usual, happily high-pitched “good morning, sweetheart!” and looked at her in bed. Her big blue eyes met mine and she said, “Mama, I won’t disobey you anymore.”
Um. I’m sorry. What?
“What did you say, Harper?” “Mama, I won’t disobey you anymore.” Then she grabbed my two cheeks with her hands and kissed me on the lips. Exactly what I do to her a hundred times a day.
And there, friends, went my heart.
I squeezed that girl tighter than I ever have. Not just because she was sorry, but because I was sorry, too. We both forgave each other. She will disobey me again, and she did. I will lose my patience with her, and I have. I fail daily at this job. But there’s grace. Amazing, amazing grace. And grace, even between a mama and her fiercely independent toddler, is beautiful.
I offer so little when it comes to parenting wisdom, but this much I know. Our greatest tool is prayer, and our biggest resource is God’s word. Harper may not be able to read 1 Corinthians 13 yet, but she will see whether or not I am. Because just like love, motherhood is patient and kind; it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. Motherhood does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; motherhood does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Motherhood bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Motherhood never ends.
Sweet Jesus, I am so glad I am her mom. You gave me the gift that I needed the most, the one I am so privileged to have, in her.
Read more being her mom essays here.