On the way to school the other morning Jessica, now 10, asked me what I wanted to be when I was younger (when I grew up).
(I always knew that. First and foremost, I wanted to be a mom.)
She kind of sighed in the way that if exhaling could offer the same effect as rolling your eyes, this would be it. In response I offered the follow up career aspirations I had when I was younger …
“A teacher, then a vet, then a marine biologist … then … well, a writer.”
And she said, “You DID IT”
She takes me by surprise. Her unfiltered ability to just see me when I wasn’t even looking for myself. This winter has been hard for me, it’s rehab time I think.
Last night as I was tucking her in she brought up swimming and I told her that while we were watching her at practice last night I leaned over to her dad and said “I think we have a diver …”
I went on to tell her that I’ll be in those stands cheering her on but every time she got on that platform I would whisper under my breath “Be careful” while she would eventually do the things that she does best. Fly, leap, this girl has wings.
She’s confounded by this phrase, I say it every day: just be careful. Be careful! Please be careful. It’s an anthem around here and probably on deaf ears at this point, they’ve heard it so much. But then I remembered I wrote this to Jessica last spring before her baptism. April 20, 2014:
One thing you can always count on is that mom will mark the milestones with heavy gratitude and the weight of the years passed. Each and every one means so much to me. I promise to be the blubbering mess you can count on.
Tomorrow marks a very special day for you, and while I’m a writer, Jessica you’re the whisper of grace in my ear as I do. Did you know that you’re getting baptized 10 years to day of when you were conceived? The very day you were knit together in my womb, you’re being born again.
God is wild, if you ask me. Wild and untamed and wholly beautiful. He will not fail you, although you will feel failed. You will feel the grief and pain of this world and while I’d like to promise that I’ll always be there, I know I can’t give you that. Some day I won’t be there, here, any more … but you will be. And I want you to know that through the pain, there is joy. Through the yuck, we are victorious in Christ. You have that, I can see it.
As a parent I want to protect you and prepare you but as a fellow believer I know you’ve already been prepared and that your protection isn’t up to me, it’s guaranteed and you’ll always have it at your fingertips. I say “be careful” on any given day about 10 to 15 times, you know this because I say it at you. We’ve long since passed the stage where it’s a reminder to you, now when I say it as you’re heading out the door or on the skateboard or too close to the road – I’m saying it for you. I’m offering up a prayer that your protection would be evident. Not because I don’t trust you, Jessica you have sound judgement (we’re so proud of you) but because the thought of missing the opportunity to cover you in the wings of our love as your first layer of protection is foreign to me.
I want to live a life where you and Oliver wonder if I ever did anything else besides love being your mom.
You might remember me working, you might remember the houses we moved to or the gardens we built. But I want you to first remember the joy you brought to my life.
Jessica Ranae, you are a breath of heaven. The timeline of your testimony has been an intimate restoration of my soul, our God is an Awesome God. Tomorrow as you share your testimony with the body of Christ and go under the water only to come out brand new – I’ll recognize you because I’ve seen you since I was a little girl.
My Jessica, how precious and tenacious and so very beautiful you are to me. Welcome home.
Lately we’ve been working on choosing Joy and Hope.
And while we were talking before bed last night she said – Even in the really hard times, Mom, we still have joy.
And this is hard, being her mom. It keeps getting harder – like grit and sweat and long days, longer prayers, more worries and trickier waters … but God, I love her.
Conversations with a 10 year old.