I could stare at my daughter forever. She amazes and inspires me every day. Every day that jumps to the next at such a shockingly alarming rate. I will miss so much about her when she gains her independence. I'll miss rubbing her soft belly (will she let me when she is a teen?). I'll miss her sleeping in my arms. I'll miss singing the ABCs with her.
But I know that's the way parenting evolves. With every development that I have to release there will come a new task, a new challenge, a new moment to bond. As she stops cozily sleeping on me her conversations with me will expand. As she learns to tie her own shoes I will start to help her with homework. As she steps out to face the big world I will help her learn to cook, clean, and prioritize. I will enjoy every bit of mom-and-daughter connecting we have. And I will pray, and work hard to ensure, that through thick and thin that connection will always remain strong.
Now that I am a mother I see how close the bond develops. I realize how much work there is to teach and feed and clean up after. I don't know where life will take my daughter. But I would never want to lose this investment. I recall how hard it was to watch my step daughter grow up and I had only met her when she was 15. I know that tears will be shed as my younger daughter eventually leaves the nest. Tears of sadness but also of immense pride and joy.
Unfortunately, I look around at the people in my life and I see a lot of deep pain. Mother hurtfully disowned by son. Uncommunicative brothers who no longer talk. Sisters who aren't close and have just lost touch. Father who has sorrowfully let his child go. Grown children pridefully holding grudges about their childhood. Parents who have selfishly walked away from their children because of a choice that they made. Walls put up over a single incident or misunderstanding. Family cut off because of irreconcilable differences. As if we are all supposed to be identical representations popped out of a mold.
They all have their valid reasons. Their painful excuses. Their busy lives that make it okay. Their earthly priorities that leave no time for the old or lost or weak. Their freedom that comes from breaking that burdensome tie. But someone is hurting.
Maybe they don't want the controlling relationship or the guilt-ridden communication. But they still think of their blood relative. They still wish for that kinship. They still long for a hello, a thinking of you, or an I'm okay. To think, how often do both sides believe the other doesn't want them? They ache for more but each thinks the other is mad or irreconcilably judging them.
I can't imagine the pain (well, I can somewhat as there are those I miss). I wouldn't want to feel cut off from my own daughter. Becoming a mother has shown me the depth of true love. I sincerely believe that forgiveness breaks down walls. It doesn't mean saying that it is okay to hurt someone. It doesn't mean pain wasn't caused. It doesn't mean putting yourself in dangerous situations. It just means moving forward and choosing people over pride.
I'll be honest with you. I could be bitter about my childhood. There were bad choices made. There were things I did not understand. There were long suffering hurts. There was healing I had to walk through. But my daughter still has grandparents who love her. I may get moments of worry based on my own insecurities. But I talk through them. I pray about them. I address my concerns. I try not to put up a wall.
I am very grateful for all the relatives that are currently invested in my daughter's life. And I hope those who aren't would push past their own issues to develop a healthy attachment with her. I also hope that I will be able to take responsibility for creating the opportunities for her to meet her aunts, uncles, and cousins. This requires prioritizing travel for visits. Making the time for phone calls. Sending little messages. Talking to her about the family and showing her pictures. (As you know, it wouldn't be an inconvenient task to for me to open and share a photo album!)
I never want my daughter to say that I kept her from knowing anyone in the family. I want to create the room for her to develop her family ties. And it will ultimately be her choice who she stays in touch with.
And whether or not she thinks we deserve it, I pray she chooses to always keep mommy and daddy in her heart, and in her life.
Who do you need to call?