Dear Baby Girl,
You’re now five months old, plus a week or so. You roll, sit up, laugh constantly, eat a few solids, and grab everything (including my hair…ouch!). I call you my little buddy, because we go through our days together, you riding on my left hip or inside your carrier like a tiny kangaroo.
But you also have struggled. You’ve struggled with sleep off-and-on since the dreaded four-month sleep regression rolled in like a summer thunderstorm. Teething pain and the (necessary but unfortunate) swaddle-weaning have only made things worse. There have been a few terrible nights when it seemed like all the nursing, rocking, walking, and swaying in the world couldn’t help you.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, because the pain of labor was pretty darn terrible, but the height of birth pain was easier on my emotions than your primal screams. Your daddy offered me noise-canceling headphones to protect my ears. But even though the sound is truly an assault on my eardrums, that isn’t what bothers me. It’s the knowledge that you’re hurting somehow that breaks my heart. The sight of your precious face scrunched up to scream and fat tears wetting your chubby cheeks is enough to make me weep, too.
“I’m here, Debbie Joy,” I whisper to you. “Mama’s here. We’re going to be okay.”
I insert these whispers into those moments when you gulp down some air to continue your shrieks of woe. And sometimes you hear me, and I successfully interrupt your sadness. Your arms stop flailing for a moment. Your brown eyes lock with mine. Your body nestles into the curves of my chest. For a moment, I feel like a real mama.
“That’s my girl,” I whisper. “I’m here for you. Mama’s not gonna leave you.”
There is a part of me that becomes whole in these moments. While only God knows how many times I’ve been decidedly ungodly in my relationship to you, right then, I know I’m joining in the life of God. Before you were born, I never really appreciated the idea of God as a mother, of God mothering humanity. But at my best as a mother, I know that I can care for you in this way, because this—and so much more—is the way that God has cared for me.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love,” God whispers to me when I hold you in the darkness pierced by your cries. “I have called you by name; you are mine.”
God gave me a name. God comforts me at my most fearful. God cradles me when I am afraid. God sings over me with joy. God feeds me with the bread of life. God promises never to leave me.
On some level, these are also the things I aspire to do as your mother. And someday, I hope and pray that in spite of all my imperfections, my motherhood will help you know the One who loves you more fully and deeply than even I can.
Thank you for showing me more about how God loves me. Without you, I wouldn’t have known so well.