I recently had to have one of those talks with my big girl where you lay out a feast of soul food.
She gets frustrated and I get frustrated with her because I see her starting to walk down excuse alley when she’s faced with something hard in her schoolwork.
She’s a bit of a perfectionist like me. She’s very competitive (like me). And the person she competes with is herself.
And I often forget to see this frustration as a need for connection and refocus on a simple truth – Do you know what a treasure you are?
We had the angry outburst and she ran off to her room to sulk. I gathered myself by folding a load of laundry. Housework is a balm for me. It gives my busy mind a task to focus on while the emotional side levels out. It helps me rewind the conversation (or fight) and look at where things went wrong. I highly recommend cleaning to gather yourself.
After I finished with the laundry, I sought my big girl out. And my little shadow of a man cub followed, of course. I sent him on a few errands so she and I could talk. I sat in her chair and she laid dramatically across the bed with her bottom lip out.
I sought her forgiveness for losing my temper and nudged her to do the same. She’s not quick to seek forgiveness. And while I used to not love that about her, I think it’s a good thing that she has to get to the other side of anger to make that request. It means she processes it and can point out where we both went wrong. That’s a gift from her daddy. He’s not one to quickly apologize either because he knows you need to get to the root of a battle and cut it out.
And let me tell y’all, I can see a heart of strength and grit on the other side of these outbursts. As much as it pains me to go through the battles with her, she’s being refined. (As am I.) She’s got that incredible ability to stand firm. I think it’s called steadfastness in Biblical terms.
My nugget of hope in that stubbornness is that this girl will stand firm when her values are questioned and her faith is tested. The hurricanes of life are going to get blowback from this girl. And I’m so proud to be her mama.
But back to the heart conversation we had.
I led with “Do you know how special you are?”
She pouted and didn’t answer. She did her favorite almost 8-year-old gesture – the shrug.
I could see a crack. I was starting to get in.
I continued, “Do you know what a treasure you are to me? To your daddy? To your brother and sister? To your dog? To God?”
So I laid out a card I wasn’t sure she was ready for.
I’ve told her she was a child I prayed for. I’ve told her she changed my life. I’ve told her she saved me from darkness more than a few times.
But today I added a little more context to that story.
I told her about a loss she walked through with me. Five years ago this fall, my world shattered. I got pregnant accidentally. We were really struggling financially. I had a diseased gall bladder. I was sick and weary and now pregnant.
Nothing about that pregnancy felt right from the moment I suspected it. I knew deep down that something was wrong, but I was too afraid to let myself go there.
We went for a sonogram. The nurse said, “There might have been a baby. I’ll get the doctor.”
In two sentences, my world came to a screeching halt. My unexpected expectancy was over. I was floored. I was sitting under a paper napkin feeling exposed inside and out.
And after hearing the diagnosis of molar pregnancy, a problem at conception and a quick and necessary operation to end the pregnancy and a plan to get my gall bladder while they were in there, I was a bit overburdened with information. I was withdrawing by the minute.
I needed to escape. I needed to process all this.
I needed to tell my little girl she wasn’t going to be a big sister after all.
I needed to prepare myself for up to a year of facing this loss every week. I had to have a blood test every week for nearly 4 months to make sure I didn’t suddenly develop cancerous growths and need chemo.
I needed to hug my baby. I needed to see my mama. I needed to fall at the feet of Jesus and ask a million questions.
I needed to get ready to go the hospital on Monday.
I needed to be prepared for a sudden, natural termination of the pregnancy.
The word that keeps coming up is prepare. I wasn’t prepared for this. I wasn’t in control.
The only thing I could do was grieve, pray and adore that beautiful gift who sat beside me.
Telling my big girl about that loss was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. She wasn’t quite three, so she didn’t really understand. She didn’t understand why I had to go to the hospital. I saw my baby in fear for the first time in her life.
Even today, that sweet little cry of despair over me having to go in the hospital still pinches my heart.
We got through the surgery. I felt empty and lost and hurt. So hurt.
The gallbladder surgery recovery was pretty awful. I don’t care who says that’s an easy surgery. Nothing about getting your gut cut open is easy.
I started to feel somewhat normal again and went to the beach to see some dear friends. It felt so good to laugh and not worry for a couple days.
Then, we got home and hubby went back to work. The phone calls and texts of checking in started to dwindle. I got to be alone with my pain.
I got to see the ugly side of loss again. You see, I’d hidden it away ever since my brother died 25 years ago. Tomorrow is his birthday, so this memory is a bit fresh in my heart right now.
When you suffer tragic loss, you aren’t ever really whole again. You’re a little cracked. You’re a little scuffed. But you’re still alive.
I had a new crack in my heart. I had a bunch of new scuffs. I had a lot of work to do to get that glue to stick to that crack.
I had another child to care for, to love, to hold.
And you know what, that child was the glue that held me together. Her joy, her laughter, her wisdom beyond her young years kept me getting out of bed every day.
I remember telling the Lord, “I’m not going to let this destroy me. You gave me that girl. I’m going to walk through the motions right now and give you my heart to heal. She needs to see her mom alive. She needs to know she is loved.”
And you know what? That little sparkly gem of a girl went to that doctor’s office every week for that blood test and held my hand.
She asked questions of the lab technician. She talked to me about dance class. She talked to me about how her name was not spelled RL, but RLB. She gave me a different focus. She gave me hope because God knew I needed her.
Do you know what a treasure you are? Do you know God has big plans for you? It may not be clear this instant, but there’s always hope – the belief that there is something good for you in the future.
Be blessed my friends, and please know that God is good all the time and All the time God is good.