My daughters birthday was last week. My beautiful, sweet, kind little girl. She is now three and I’m already surprised by how fast and at the same time how slow time goes by. I wish I could grasp at time, and still it, and keep her longer.
But I have no control of time, and little control over my daughter and her life.
But the truth is, I have so little real control over her, and really, I don’t want it.
I can’t tell you how many times in her short life I’ve been complimented on my sweet little girl. They compliment me on her personality, her kindness, and her sweet temper. I almost want to laugh. Oh if they only knew how little any of that had to do with me!
My daughter likes to clean, even though she also likes to make messes, but still, a three year old that will wipe up her spills seems impressive doesn’t it? But I never taught her to do that.
She likes to wash her hands, brush her teeth. She’ll actually ask, even demand, to do these things.
I never really taught her to do that either.
I never taught her to come pull up a blanket over me when I’m laying on the couch not feeling well, to kiss my head and tell me she loves me. Yet she does.
Sometimes I suspect that my daughter is a better mother than I am. Usually this supposition comes up as she comes up to me and asks to take a bath.
My grandmother was often blamed by other mothers for my uncles behavior. My uncles story is a rather sad one. Extremely ADHD and adopted from a young mother probably on some type of drugs, he was basically uncontrollable as a child. He grew quickly and was swiftly larger than all the other children, so if ever there was a confrontation with other children he was inevitably blamed and labeled a bully because he was bigger.
Drugs followed him for nearly the rest of his life, until he died, just a couple months after my beautiful girl was born. He never was able to meet her.
For his whole life, my grandmother struggled not to blame herself. The voices of other mothers who would blame her for her uncontrollable child became her own voice, wondering if she could have done more.
But we have no control over our children’s lives. We have limited control over their circumstances during the time we raise them, we can try to teach them as best we can, discipline as best we can, love them as best we can, but in the end? We must let go of them, because honestly? They weren’t ours to begin with.
We could try to control them. We could try to dictate what and who they should be. We could set down laws and boundaries and coddle them to try to protect them from the harsh realities of the world. We will fail.
There is only one who can dictate life and death and circumstance and even personality over our child. Only Him who truly made them.
We carried them perhaps, our genes might have some part in who they are, our efforts some part in who they become, but He created them.
To realize that we are not in control over our children is frightening. We know all that could happen to them, and it can paralyze us with terror. But when we realize that someone Else has a hand in their life, it can be a freeing understanding.
I have only to do my absolute best by my daughter, and I intend to. But in the end, she is her own little person, and she is God’s child more than she will ever be mine.
And so I operate on a bit of a disconnect. Ever and always savoring these moments, as she grows, as she cuddles with me, as her adoring eyes turn to mine. But at the same time I hold myself steady, knowing that those adoring eyes need to turn ever higher, and though right now I have the privilege and honor of holding her in my arms, she is really in His.
So I laugh, I chuckle, part incredulous and part delight as people compliment me on this lovely little person I am raising. Knowing it has really very little to do with me.