Today was the 4th birthday party of my oldest daughter, the party, not day of birth. See, I love celebrating my own birthday for at least a week, if not more, and honestly, feel the same about everyone’s birthday because it’s a time to feel special for just being born. So this party was the first of a few celebrations we would be having for her throughout the upcoming week. As I decorated the house for her party, or should I say, “the castle,” my heart started racing, and I felt that burning sensation in the back of my eyes that I know so well. By the time I lay out the tiaras for the little “princesses” arriving later, tears were flowing.
Just last evening my husband and I went out with another couple for a much needed time of fellowship. There were many laughs, but our conversation turned serious when our friend shared why he was fearful for his children’s future. We shared a few of our own concerns and then moved on to lighter topics. Well, while preparing for M’s party earlier today, the fact that she was one year closer to experiencing some of the “fears” we discussed began to weigh heavily on me.
When I hear people say, “Babies don’t keep,”my first response is, “Praise the Lord”! But seriously, making my girls feel loved, meeting their needs and caring for them gives me great joy, but drains me, too. Anything I can teach them to do for themselves, I do readily, for I am the last person to keep them from feeding themselves, cleaning up their own messes or wiping their own bottoms, goodness knows! My mother claims that the sound of my brother pouring his own cereal and turning on the tv to watch cartoons by himself on a Saturday morning while she was still in bed actually made her giddy, and now I believe it!
I am tougher than most mothers, maybe extreme at times, ushering my girls toward independence, but when it comes to matters of the heart, that is a totally different story. I know all too well the scars women carry from emotional pain inflicted at an early age. Young girls, especially, take everything to heart, which shapes how they see themselves for years to come. Anyone who has endured remarks made in a middle school cafeteria or locker room knows what I am talking about.
While on a playdate last summer, two girls kept running away from M every time she went over to talk to them. Though they were just being silly girls, a hurt M cried to me, “Momma they don’t like me. They don’t want me to be their friend.” Let me tell ya somethin’, it took every ounce of restraint in me not to walk over to open up a can of full-force “Momma Bear” on those girls, but I remained calm, and only five minutes later she was fine and playing again. Although that introduction to rejection was just a tiny blip on the screen of her heart, my heart ached for my little girl because I remembered how I felt when I learned that not everyone wanted to be my friend. At thirty-two the wounds of rejection during my adolescence still hurt, and my heart literally broke knowing this was only the beginning for her.
A lot of folks bare exterior scars, which they explain for laughs or shrieks at dinner parties, but the invisible, secret ones are those that cause real pain. When hurt, my little girl runs to me first, but in a few years, I will be last, if she even comes to me at all. My parents poured Biblical truths into me and regularly told me that I was beautiful, smart, and loved, yet the only words I believed were those of my peers, even when they were hurtful and sometimes downright hateful. So this afternoon I bowed my head and prayed intensely for M and her future friends, that each friend would know Christ as Savior, encourage one another in the faith, accept each other’s differences and carry each other’s burdens.
Sure, both physical and emotional pain is part of growing up, for better or worse, and I must accept that, but the thought of not being able to control what people say or do to my girls rips me apart and makes me feel so helpless as their guardian, their momma. As I prayed for them, God reminded me that I must entrust their futures to Him and believe that He loves my girls more than I, to the extent of sacrificing His ONLY son to die for them. Christian parents need to pray fervently that the armor of God will protect our children from the evils of world. No matter how much I want to always be there to wipe away their tears and reassure them, I will not, but I can always love and pray for them and point them to Jesus, the greatest of all friends, ever. I can remind them that they are “daughters of a king,” who will never disappoint or fail them like others, including myself, are bound to do. That’s what my parents did, even when I was at my worst, and well, here I am now writing this.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:10-18
Dealing with my own gamut of emotions is tough enough, let alone those of my daughters, so I know how important it is to enlist Godly women as prayer warriors for the souls of my daughters and for a shoulder to cry on when I don’t think I can take the trials of motherhood much longer, especially during those storm and stress years of adolescence, which will be here soon enough. But tonight, there is one momma here in South Carolina who is going to break her own “rules” by letting the birthday girl watch movies on the ipad and sleep in momma’s bed because, “Babies don’t keep.”