Evie’s growing up.
While far from a teenager and even farther from an adult she’s not that far from a toddler and then a child. She’s a busy, curious seven-month old that want’s to see everything, touch everything, examine everything and be…well, everywhere.
I love that about her.
I love the sheer energy that makes her little legs kick against the stroller bars. I love the way her entire face lights up when she smiles. I absolutely cannot get enough of her face, when she’s happy her entire body wriggles with sheer joy. I love the speed with which one pudgy hand can reach the pen, glass of water or book that is just out of her reach (but not quite far enough). I love the way I can tell what she’s pondering by the million little expressions that flicker across her face. I love how her little arms are learning what a hug is, clinging tighter and tighter to mom and dad’s neck. I love how fascinated she is by the snaps on her diaper, picking curiously at each one (one day she’ll succeed in getting it off and I may not love that…as much). The way she takes every.single.toy out of her basket and spreads them in a perfect circle around her little body, the way she thinks that anything that moves near her is playing peekaboo – the curtain fluttering, the cat running past – all of them get her happiest smile. The way she grins at a single cheerio that fell on the floor and her determination as she desperately front rolls, flips and wiggles her way to it
This girl is one of God’s greatest gifts to me.
There was a brief time in my life when I wasn’t sure I wanted to have children. As silly as it sounds to me now, for those months I really wrestled with whether that was something I wanted and God wanted for my life – then, one night the struggle resolved so suddenly. I was driving home from a friend’s house around Christmas of that year and, while waiting at stop sign, this thought hit me: if I don’t have children I can’t introduce them to the Chronicles of Narnia. That little thought made me stay parked at the stop sign in tears (I’m nothing if not ridiculously sentimental). Tom wasn’t in the picture yet and I really had no idea when I would marry or have children – I just knew that I personally wanted the privilege, responsibility and joy of introducing little people to the world (and, obviously, the world of Narnia ;)).
Fast-forward five years and I find myself a married woman of almost 27 with a baby that makes my heart swell with a God-inspired loved when I look at her.
Lately, I find myself thinking – what do I want to introduce her to? What do I need to introduce her to? Her awareness is growing, her comprehension is growing, her understanding is growing. My role as her mamma has already shifted from “just” physical caretaker as I carried her in my body, to nurturer and source of comfort as I (and the safety of her daddy’s arms) was all she knew the first few months of her life, to beginning to build on those things and becoming even more of a teacher to her little heart.
There’s so much I want her precious self to know.
I want her to know that the true magic of childhood doesn’t cost a penny.
It’s not at Disney World or the toy aisle of Wal*Mart. It’s not in having a huge bedroom of her own or eating at all the best restaurants.
The magic of childhood is something she can experience every day.
I want her to know the joy of holding buttercups under her chin and the skill of packing a baseball helmet with snow to make a snow turkey. I want her to know the sticky frustration of pine sap between her bare toes and the way you can always smell honeysuckle before you can see it.
I want her to know the true freedom that comes with knowing when to say “no” as well as “yes” and the importance of boundaries to protect herself and those around her.
I want to model a tender heart.
A heart that draw boundaries but doesn’t create barriers out of fear or anger – a heart that is tender enough to be broken because a heart that can’t be broken also cannot fully love.
I want her to experience the anticipation of the non-seasons, those moments in between the changes, the coming of fall with chilled air and vividly hued leaves and the anticipation of spring with its floral breezes and crescendo of blossoms.
I want her to know that the world does not revolve around her but that she’s an irreplaceable, indispensable part of it.
I want her to see Jesus.
I want her to be able to look past the mistakes of Christians (and, sometimes, the outright, painful wounds) and see Christ. If she can do that she will find a faith that sustains her.
I want her to know how to handle fear. To remember to breathe through the shock of loss (which, inevitably, will come) and to allow herself the space to grieve when she needs it.
I want her to laugh wholeheartedly. To persist through the nightmare of learning to tie her shoes ( ;) ), to go to bed ecstatic that it’s almost Christmas and counting down the days until we get to do our family tradition of decorating a gingerbread house (a tradition that started two years before she was even born). I want her to find her peace in the holy hush of advent and the soaring joy of Easter.
I want to introduce her to bobbing waves in the ocean, melting Italian ice, making popcorn on the stovetop, the importance of saving money, the need to eat healthily, how to make envelopes and write her name. Tom and I want to create a home for her and our future babies that is full of grace and boundaries, love that disciplines, exploration and respect – paradoxes the Gospel makes sense of.
I want her to see the endless journeys she can take into books and the way her imagination can make anything interesting.
There’s so much she has yet to experience: her toes in the ocean, the thrill of flying, picking out an outfit for herself, making her bed, plunging her hands into the sticky yeastiness of bread dough, eating watermelon in the summer, picking dandelions, puddle-jumping, pushing a shopping cart, running up a hill so fast she can’t breathe, saying a bedtime prayer, playing dress up decorating cookies, getting a letter in the mail, holding her baby brother or sister, picking out shapes in the clouds, helping wash the dishes, dancing around the living room.
I love seeing her eyes light up at life, I want to be there every step of the way to soak in the magic with her.
This parenting thing is something I feel inadequate for every day but wake up eager to do at the same time.
I’m new at it, I’m only at the beginning of the journey – but by God’s grace there are many days yet to come. As I’m already learning, the days full of little moments add up to make a big impact. We only get one today, only one right now and I want to live them faithfully and well with her.