*This post is part of a series on Victorious Parenting. Click on the label to the right to read all posts in this series.*
I am determined to know my daughter’s heart.
Selah is more complicated than Elliott. And unfortunately, we tend to view the characteristic, “complicated” as a criticism. But it’s not a criticism, it’s a part of who she’s created to be. I’ve seen it from the time she was a teeny weeny baby… she would cry at times and I had NO idea why, whereas Elliott almost NEVER cried at odd times for no reason. Her naps have been totally unexplainable for long seasons of time, whereas Elliott was quite predictable. Selah is much more sensitive than Elliott ever was. Elliott was always perfectly comfortable and happy with every stranger or friend that he met, and always content to be in their arms. But Selah has shown lots of partiality to her mamacita, and has definitely had her fair share of tears at times when passed off to another.
In short, she has been hard to figure out sometimes. There have been MANY, MANY times in her short 7 months of life that I have said, “I just don’t know what she needs!! If I knew what she needed, I would give it to her!” I have been exasperated and frustrated–not at my sweet little daughter, but at my own lack of understanding. I so desperately want to give her what she needs.
And now, she’s in a new stage. She’ll be playing quite contently and then all of a sudden start to cry. She’ll spot me from across the room and look at me with pleading eyes through her tears as if to say, “Why have you abandoned me, Mama?! Please, please come!!!” I’ll go scoop her up, the tears instantly stop, and then…and then she pushes away from me. Seriously. She takes both her hands and pushes against me as if to get down. So, I put her down. And she begins to cry.
Tonight, days worth of this underlying frustration began to rise up in me. We were playing on the floor and she spotted her Leap Frog table. She bolted towards it with urgency, and I put her up so she was standing to play. And suddenly, she began to twist her entire body around and reach for me. I scooted closer and she grabbed onto my face with both her hands. So I picked her up, and–like clockwork–she pushed away and towards the play table. So I put her back, and she began to whine, again twisting her body around and reaching for me. I picked her up and put her on my lap, thinking she must just want the best of both worlds–to be in Mama’s arms and also be playing with her toy. But no, she twisted and squirmed, reaching for my face again. So I picked her up. Maybe she wants to cuddle? Nope. Instantly she began to push away.
“Sweet girl, what do you want????” I asked her, feeling the tension rising up in me.
I am so quick to give up, to push away, when I don’t understand. When I feel rejected. When I am hurt. When I don’t know what to do, I flee. Far too many Mother/daughter relationships and friendships are brought to destruction because of this pattern. One feels hurt, one seems to be distancing herself, the other doesn’t know what she did to hurt the first, so they both push away…and away…and away…until they are too far out of reach. It is so sad…how chasms as big as the Grand Canyon are formed through misunderstanding that leads to insecurity that leads to distance.
And I refuse to do that with my daughter. I know it sounds crazy. Yes, I know she is just 7 months old. Quit making a mountain out of a molehill, Susanne, you might be thinking. But, you see, I know the biggest of Oaks, formed over hundreds of years, started with a tiny seedling. And I want the seedling of my relationship with my daughter to grow up healthy, tall and strong. A tiny tree that starts to grow crooked because of an obstruction may not seem like a big deal when it’s only inches tall. But once that tree is full grown, it will be very apparent that it didn’t grow straight. The bigger it gets, the more the imperfection will be made very, very clear.
So I never want my heart towards Selah to be, “You are too complicated! I give up!! Just play by yourself and cry about it if you must!” Never, ever, ever. Even when she is “just” 7 months old. I am sure that Selah will be like me in some ways, and I am certain she will be very different than me in others. And I do not want to push away in exasperation because she puzzles me at times. I long to know her. To truly, truly know her heart. To understand how her mind works. Please, Lord, let not my frustration or my frustrated efforts lead me to push away from my daughter. Let not my insecurity that tells me I’m a bad mom if I don’t know what she needs, push me away from my daughter. Let not my fear that she will push me away, push me away from my daughter. I long to understand, not to reject. I long to know, not to run.
I read in a book once that a woman’s central fear is that she is too much, too complicated. Do we not all cry out to be known? To not be given up on? Oh, and how hurt we are when others choose to turn away from the journey of knowing our hearts because we are “just too much!” We see a woman sleeping around with men and are critical, instead of learning that she never had a dad to tell her of her worth. We see a woman who flaunts her body with short skirts and low shirts and we judge, instead of realizing that she never had a mother to teach her dignity. We see a woman who settles…oh, how she settles…instead of understanding that she has never tasted of her Father’s love; a love that died so that she could taste abundance. We push away because we do not know. We see the behavior, and we refuse to understand the heart. So we turn and run.
What destruction is brought upon women because we act this way. I will not tell my daughter she is too complicated, too sensitive, too fickle. I will not turn away when I don’t understand her. I will not settle for not truly knowing her heart.
Instead, I will find her. I will discover what makes her heart beat and I will fan that beat into flame. I will help teach her what to do with her emotions, instead of running when her emotions hurt my feelings. I will patiently bear with her in love when she knows not what she does because she is learning how to handle all of her own intricacies.
And lastly, I will celebrate her. I will celebrate how God made her–complicated and perfect. I will celebrate my Selah, whose intricate, beautiful heart within longs to be known and loved.
I am unrelentingly determined to do so.