A little girl was not nice to K the other day. And by “not nice” I mean wouldn’t share. The kid was a complete stranger and had no reason to share with my daughter. She didn’t know her, and for all she thought, K was going to run off with her princess dolls. In hindsight I know there’s nothing wrong with being a preschooler and not freely giving away one’s valued toys. I was simply sad because she wasn’t included. And I could relate. I couldn’t tell the little girl or her mom that K wouldn’t steal her toys. I couldn’t reassure them that her happiness to make new friends is just another quirky trait she got from her Mama. No interference from me could make the situation different, nor would it prevent other more hurtful ones from happening in the future. In reality, I want her to be shaped by negative experiences, not be defined by them. I want my child to understand the sin that fills this world and not allow it to shake her to her core.
The desire to convince mom’s around me that my kiddo is a great friend for their daughter to have is a sensitive one. One that reminds me of deep wounds from my childhood, ones that my own mother shares with me. Ones that on days like Mother’s Day I am reminded that I’m among the group of every other woman who will have to watch another child be cruel to their own. Because girls are mean. Because this is a fallen world. Because not everyone has to like you.
Facing my own limits as a mother is incredibly difficult. My respect and gratitude for my own mother during these times is immeasurable. I know my side of the story of being bullied, ridiculed, and generally beaten down with words relentlessly for years. I know the deep pain that still rises from time to time when I feel excluded or less than. For the longest time I could only relate to myself. And then my daughter began having the ability to interact with others, even being the mean one from time to time. It’s only now that I carry the pain my mother had to endure while watching her only child silently lose herself because her opinion of her worth was directly related to the way her peers treated her.
I am thankful time, prayer, soul-searching, and forgiveness has healed many of my personal wounds. New realizations that I now have to be on the other side of witnessing the brokenness of this world is enough to make me cry. I can’t save K from anyone. I can encourage her that her identity is in Christ alone, that she is loved, and that she is to be kind to everyone, but I can’t instill the same values in her classmates. I can’t shield her from the pain, despite my best intentions.
How my mother handled my years of adolescent torment is beyond me. The fact that she faced this largely alone because my dad traveled frequently for work is the icing on the cake. The cherry on top? How she remained composed and dignified while likely crying behind closed doors away from me. It is something only now I can relate to. And appreciate. And be eternally thankful for.
I’m sure her dreams of raising children did not include having a daughter that had to experience the death of her brother while still in elementary school. I’m also certain it didn’t include the screaming matches of my senior year of high school. What I am absolutely positive of, is that the woman who has chosen to put up with me, defend me, love me, and mold me for the past 27 years is exactly the definition of the the woman I hope I’m becoming. In my role as a mother to K I’m well aware the “thank you’s” from her won’t come for many years because she won’t be able to comprehend the deep emotional journey that is motherhood.