I wounded my daughter the other day. She was sharing some exciting news, and I answered thoughtlessly. She sat quietly in the car and as I apologized, she said, “It’s okay, Mom.” She was working hard to hold back tears and my heart ached, because my carelessness meant pain for her. Pain that I couldn’t fix. “It’s not okay. It’s never okay for me to hurt you.”
Once we were home, I turned to her in the kitchen. She is only one inch shorter than me now, and I could look her straight on. Her eyes were bright with unshed tears, and I could see the two different shades of brown glistening. I told her how much it hurt me that I hurt her, that I was careless with her heart, and she grabbed me in a hug and we cried together in the kitchen.
Fast forward a few days, and I picked her up from school and stopped for gas and we belted out pop tunes at the top of our lungs. I love that she chooses the same harmonies as I do, and I ache that my paralyzed vocal cord makes me raspy so my belting is something just above a whisper. When we arrived at home we danced in the kitchen and laughed until there were tears in our eyes. A different kind of tears this day. And Brian walked in, confused, which only made us laugh some more and he shrugged and muttered something about not understanding women.
And just a couple days ago, we sat on the couch together and I listened as she unloaded struggle after struggle to me. Struggles I can identify with deeply. And I told her of my own teenage years and all my questions and the dark places I would go. And I shared of the light of Jesus, and we promised to be real with each other and encourage each other on our very hard days. And, teary-eyed, she placed her head on my shoulder and smiled, then said with her best Valley Girl voice, “I’m so glad you’re my bestie.”
I gaze at her sometimes when she doesn’t know it, mesmerized by the light that shines from her, and I cannot fathom that she would believe she is anything less than beautiful. I marvel at her, and I tremble at the gift God has given me in her and what an amazing responsibility He has given me to love her well. We read devotionals together and write quotes to each other and spend our days singing song lyrics back and forth and watch our favorite shows and drink hot tea and bake together and gather flowers to fill our home and curl up with good books and tell each other about our days. And I miss her when she heads off to school. There is a literal ache in my chest as I watch her wave and ride off with her big brother each morning.
See, here’s the thing. It’s easy for me to get self-focused in my parenting. To worry that I am not enough because of all things I cannot do that I think moms should do—all the things cancer has stolen from us. I make it all about me being the perfect parent so my kids won’t leave home and talk about how dysfunctional we are. The reality is, I mess up. A lot. There are things I would love to have as a do-over. There are careless words and assumptions I’ve made that hurt my children. And I am nowhere near perfect. None of us are.
But I know the One Who is, and I point my girl to her perfect Father. He will never fail her and will only work for her good. And all these things… the hard conversations, the apologies, the forgiveness, the laughter, the sharing, the singing, the lessons learned from suffering are all just part of the letting her go and be who God created her to be, for after all, if she tried to be anyone else, who would be my Audrey?
Happy National Daughter’s Day, my dearest. I can’t believe you’re mine. I’m thankful you’re His. I love you… more… most.