My precious first born turns eight years old today. Her birthday falls on Groundhog’s Day each year…yes, Groundhog’s Day is always on February 2. It seems to be one of those facts only people with loved ones born on this day know.
It is difficult to put into words my feelings for sweet Caroline. Being the first born means we had to learn all the ins and outs of babyhood together. We resolved many worries and hurdled milestones that are now barely recognized with her baby brother for the third time around. This beautiful daughter went through the darkest of days with me, helped her baby brother enter into my single parent world, and gracefully embrace her new daddy on earth with all the love a child can give. She amazes me.
At eight years old I can see many of her adorable child features fading away and hints of her young adult beauty beginning to shine through. Her baby teeth which finally appeared at 15 months old(!) are now all but gone and replaced. She no longer says boo boo berries (blueberries) or Jejus (Jesus) but she can now hold theological conversations which rivaled my own thoughts in my 20s.
It has been said that as soon as a baby is born we are raising the child to leave us. Ouch. Isn’t it true though? I see Caroline’s independence gaining momentum. She takes care of her own needs as well as others with her prayers and concern for their well-being.
I can feel myself playing tug of war as I urge her to wish, dream and prepare for her own future all the while my selfish desires pulling back hard to keep her close, protected, and inside her turquoise and pink room where I falsely believe I “control” her safety and enjoy her presence.
But God is helping me to see glimpses of His plans for her and the joy she has because of Him. This allows me to loosen my grip on her childhood just a little. She sings praise songs to her brothers (or whenever she doesn’t have a book in her hands!) She prays for her classmates to know Jesus, she reminds me of our prayer commitments to friends, families and missionaries around the world and shows compassion for those hurting well beyond her years. I have witnessed her empathize and comfort others when realizing they also have loved ones in heaven, “They will be together with my daddy in heaven!” It heals and hurts simultaneously when I hear her say this, she has learned so much in her short eight years.
All of this, and yet she still enjoys dolls, sparkly accessories, and humor only a little brother can appreciate…so for today I will enjoy this place of “in between” where we are. I will love on her today with my imperfect hands open, so God can hold her in His confident, never failing ones.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11