I was at our local Hallmark for the second time in the course of an hour. The first time was a total bust and, truth be told, I was a little embarrassed to head back in for round two. Five minutes was all I had needed. It became abundantly clear within the first ten seconds however, that my overtired, strong-willed, frisky little ‘love’ wasn’t up for the seemingly insurmountable challenge of standing still beside me for even ONE second. Opening the door to the store was literally like opening the gate to a bull run. Mary was the bull and I was the panicky rider trying desperately to hold on to my child who just wanted to run free. The tighter I held, the stronger she kicked. The more I begged, the more she dug her heels in and refused to peel herself off the floor where she had assumed her classic wet-noodle form, spreading across the rug like a free-flowing puddle. There were no rodeo clowns to help distract my little bull or disperse the attention of the two sales ladies I could feel staring me down. I held on for as long as I could and then scooped my child off the floor and carried her football style out the door–but not before she had the chance to swing her leg out from my arms and give the door a good kick as we made our hasty exit.
I gave her a good lecture as I buckled her into her car seat. She knew Mommy was mad and pretended to care for a whole thirty seconds before she switched gears and decided to put in her lunch order as we began the drive home.
“Cheese? Chips! Mama, mama, Cheese!”
Seriously? How can you even think I’m going to feed you ever again after what you just pulled in that store? I was fuming. How does she not understand her behavior is totally unacceptable? How can she even think about food when she should be fashioning her most sincere apology? My plight in this world grew with each self-centered thought and then ever-so-slowly I began to take a look at my own role in the fiasco and realized I may have pushed it in thinking she would be able to handle yet another stop after our already busy morning and her early rising. I was softening to the idea of giving her a piece of cheese when we got home, but the chips were a reward I remained unwilling to offer.
Much to my relief and to Mary’s pure delight, our rodeo clown met us at the door and my stress immediately began its descent to a manageable level. One look at my face was all Noah needed to understand I had reached my limit. He scooped his little buddy up and off they went to play while I took a much-needed breather. I am reminded each time Mary’s brothers come to my rescue that I was never meant to run this rodeo on my own. God designed the perfect team and it never fails that when one of us gets bucked off, another is waiting at the gate.
After feeding Mary lunch, which did amount to more than just a piece of cheese, (my generous spirit surprises even myself) I left her in the care of her brother and made my second trip to the store. Ironically enough, the one item I was in search of was an over-the-shoulder bag just big enough for my keys and phone that would allow me two open hands to hang tight to Mary when we were out. I didn’t find the bag, but, as I perused the store, still decompressing from the mornings events, I happened by a small wooden plaque that read, “I prayed for this child.” And there was God’s ever-so-gentle reminder of the incredible gift wrapped in this nutty little package.
Those five simple words brought my mind from reliving her multiple temper tantrums that morning to the months I spent praying my heart out for her arrival. As with my boys, I loved her long before I met her and remember every last detail of the first time I got to hold her in my arms. Tomorrow we will celebrate her fifth birthday. In thinking of what that celebration really means, I have come to understand I need to rejoice in each and every trait that makes my daughter who she is. While it may be hard to celebrate her strong will (like, iron strong) I know that it is not only what she needs to fulfill God’s will for her, but also part of what will make me whole, a crucial piece to the puzzle of just who God created me to be. If I have any hope of doing this parenting thing right, I feel like my growth should mirror the growth of my children. I have just as much to learn from each of them, as I have to teach them.
Thank you baby girl;
for teaching me what true perseverance looks like
for proving that you can in fact smile for 95% of the day without your face freezing that way
for refining my patience and for making it simply impossible to stay angry with you
for accepting my failures and loving me through it
for your intoxicating giggle
for opening your heart and showing me a little piece of God every time I look at you
Happy Birthday Mary-Rose Andrea. You can kick and run all you want little lady, but this mama’s holding on tight.