I can still see myself standing in the living room of our pine paneled living room, crying over the phone for him to come home from work right away. He flew into the house, not knowing what to expect, fearing the worst. I held out the pregnancy test to show him, and we both sobbed as we embraced each other in miraculous gratitude.
Parenthood was not easily granted us. My first marriage had ended in divorce after I had miscarried. Now, in my second marriage, I had relived a similar nightmare and worse. Month after month of infertility treatment ate up our nest egg in hopes of successfully conceiving a child. Temperature charts enough to wallpaper a room made it impossible to ignore our plight each day. I would humble myself on my knees in prayer each morning pleading, "Lord, if it be Your will, PLEASE grant us a successful pregnancy this month. Otherwise, take this desire from me, because I can't take it any more." I would read the verses of 1 Samuel 1 to encourage myself, knowing that women of the Bible had even wrestled with this heartache. Eventually, we made progress down the path of adoption, thrilled with the notion of showing a child how much they were loved by so many.
But then she came. I remember feeling her first movement as tickling flutter across my abdomen. I remember how much she moved when the vibration of the car barreling down the highway got her going. I remember getting to know her better when the genetic ultrasound revealed I was carrying a girl. I remember my sister in tears as she threw the family shower for "this long-awaited baby." And I remember both my husband and my mother exclaiming excitedly that they had each dreamed I had given birth to a red head, a notion I had never entertained.
I always wanted so badly to be a mother. It's as if God hard wired this intense desire in me. Yet, I never had any expectations of what it would be like. I just wanted to love.
As I prepared to write this story about getting my daughter to the age 18, I felt a pull of guilt. So many of my friends and fellow parents will not give their children wings to fly at this legal age of majority. Still, each scenario has its own heartaches and concerns. There is so much unknown in the future, no matter how much we prepare.
I would tell you that the greatest lesson of the past 18 years is that this red headed beauty has taught me more about love than I had ever known before. When she hurt, I hurt. When she battled repeated bronchiolitis throughout her toddler years, my lungs tightened and wheezed too. When her joints are in pain, she still always asks me if my arthritis is flaring up as well.
Her mercy and forgiveness give her a loveliness that exudes far beyond any physical beauty. She has always been tenderhearted towards her siblings' suffering. She has always reached out to the underdog. She is quick to apologize. When others have mistreated her, she has been quick to resolve issues with them, offering them an understanding that is far beyond the wisdom of her years. I can even recall her determination with a group of friends who mocked her faith for a stretch of years. Despite their mistreatment she would proclaim, "I'm not going to heaven without them, Mom!"
Parenting her has taught me that who she is has so little to do with me and what I have taught her. It has far more to do with who God made her to be. I think that it first hit me when we were sitting on the patio in the dark when she was 3 years old, and she suddenly looked up at the heavenly array, singing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star..." completely unprompted. To this day, I look at her determined opinions, innate kindness, and unswayed resolve and profess to people, "In spite of me -- NOT because of me."
So as she steps over that finish line into adulthood, I must remind myself of these things. When I find myself concerned about her health, her joints and how she will care for herself when she is away at college, I need to recall who she is. When I dread the notion of her facing unknown diagnoses and unanticipated difficulties as she walks forward into life, I need to reminisce about her incredible resiliency.
God has been tucked into her heart from before she was delivered by that doctor. She knows Him. He is there with her always, even when I cannot be. That is all she will ever need for the remainder of her days.
With that, I can take delight in her flight.
PRAY: LORD, we hold these treasures You have entrusted to our care with an open hand. They are Yours. Remove our fears and help us to remember that You are with them, just as You are with us, until the end of time.
~ Barb Dittrich