It would be impossible to list the ways you have changed me. We were not planning on you, your Dad and I. We were thinking about finishing school and building resumes and saving money and then one day two pink lines changed all of that. But you know, Harper girl, I think that’s just the way God wanted it to be: a lesson in parenting that I needed to learn from the very beginning— because since that day, you have not stopped surprising me.
To tell you the truth, I think I had a lot of expectations about what it would be like to have a daughter. And I’m sorry about that. Those darn expectations will get you every time, and they’ll tempt you toward the idea that something is wrong when reality is not just what you thought it would, could, or should be. We’ve thrown those darn things away in our relationship; they have never really worked for us. I expected meek and mello, you are strong and decisive. I expected compliant, you are a natural leader. And Harper, I think I expected being your mom to be easy. I really did. A little discipline now and then, but mostly a journey of smooth-sailing from here to eighteen, on to college and beyond, when we would be best friends forever.
But sweet girl, being your mom is the hardest job in the world, and let me tell you why: because I love you so much it could break me. Every single day, I look at you and ache just the tiniest little bit, because the gift of being your mom is just so big, so weighty. And sometimes I fear I might fail you, hurt you, disappoint you, let something happen to you, misdirect you, speak harshly when you need grace, or give grace when your heart needs truth. And I care so deeply about your heart, Harper girl. I care about that more than anything else. And this business of tending to little souls is enough to really weigh a gal down. But this is motherhood, in all its wonderful, humbling glory. You gave me this role first, and you are the one who is teaching me how to live it. It is a journey we both need grace on.
The thing about you is that for every moment of strong-willed tension, you give me ten moments of unstoppable laughter. For every disappointing start to the morning, you give me dozens of great afternoons. For every defiant “no” spoken, you say a hundred times “I love you, too!” and “You’re my best friend, mommy!” You are what the books might call spirited and I don’t disagree with that. But I also know a book can’t label you, Harper. You are just my Harper. You spoke in full sentences at 18 months and you have not stopped telling fabulous stories since then. You can already kick a soccer ball with both feet and this gives your mama joy unending! You certainly know what you want and sometimes we have to slow down and talk about those things, but Harper, you are always quick to apologize and want to put your head on my shoulder when you do. Never lose that conviction to be repentant, Harper, we need it our entire lives. You are big sister twice over already, and a great one, I might add. You love being a doc-trinarian to your stuffed animals and you know your colors in Spanish perfectly. You run fast, you jump into water without fear, and you know how to hug. I love your hugs, and I know a good number of people who feel so special when you see them across the room and yell their name as you run toward them for an embrace. You’re really good at that, Harper.
Today is your third birthday. That seems both impossible and just right, like we have had you in our home forever but you are still my baby girl at the same time. Our lives together have been full of paradoxes like that, haven’t they?
To the girl who made me a mama, the one we named Harper Kristin after a brave writer and a special woman with a genuine love and heart for Jesus, Happiest Birthday, sweet girl. I just can’t imagine who I would be without you. Every bit of how God made you is so perfectly crafted to fill a role in the world only you can fill. I cannot wait to cheer you on every step of the way. You are so prayed for and so loved— and every day God gives me with you those things will be true. Thanks for teaching me so much, Harper. This job of being your mom makes me need Jesus more, and that makes me better. And truthfully, it is also my very favorite thing in the world. Love you right up to the moon and back.