Your smile eclipses your face with sunshine. I want every day to be sunshine, filled with secret giggles as our heads share a pillow; filled with drawing Crayola hearts and walking with your hand in mine, with shared baths overflowing with bubbles and your face poking around every corner asking “mommy whatcha doing?”
I anticipate years ahead when we will go out to lunch and share french fries and inside jokes. When I will squeeze in the dressing room with you and zip up dozens of prom dresses to find the perfect one, and the late nights we’ll sit on the kitchen counter, barefoot in our pj’s as we eat chocolate chip cookies from the pan as you tell me about boys, and mean girls, and teachers with smelly breath.
I dream of the day you call to tell me that you met the man you are going to marry, and the day you dial my number with trembling fingers because you’re holding a test with two pink lines.
Right now I see a little girl smile with baby teeth and chubby cheeks, but I know that the radiance of your smile won’t fade as your face softens into the angles of an elegant woman.
But as much as I relish your brilliant smile, I know even now, that every day can’t be all sunshine.
I realized in that moment, that this is just the beginning of our game of tug of war as mother and daughter.
There will be days when I say “no” more times than I can count. When you will think I am the meanest mom in the world. When you will keep secrets from me. There will be days when we will fight and you’ll throw hard, angry words at me.
I remember, with a lump in my throat, the harsh, jagged words I launched at my mother. Words like “you’re stupid,” and “I hate you.”
Despite your sadness and anger, I will need to set boundaries that guide and protect you.
And as your Mom I’ll shout and whisper “No!” and “I love you.” and “No!” and “No!”and “No!” and “I love you,” “I love you,” “I love you.”
But no matter how many times I tell you I love you, the NO’s will echo louder, leaving you feeling stifled and frustrated.
But when you want to turn on the music and drowned me out, just remember the persistent whisper, “I love you.” And when it feels like my “no’s” are like the bricks of a cement wall, also know that I don’t want to wall you in, but to protect you from decisions that will take away your freedom.
If your smile fills my heart with light, then your sadness creates the dark clouds that threaten the sky on a rainy day; .your tears have a way of pounding on my chest with a dull, persistent ache. But as much as I hate to see your tears, I know that without them you wouldn’t grow.
In the same way, God delights in our smiles and laughter, but He loves us enough to also allow seasons of struggle and tears that help us to grow.
In shouts and whispers, He answers our prayers with “no’s” and “not right now,” and “wait.” We become frustrated at a God that loves us too much to let us subsist on mediocrity and compromises.
But in the quiet moments as we struggle with a tug of war in our heart whether to trust in what He is doing, we hear His quiet, persistent whispers “I love you,” “I love you,” “I love you.”
Thank you for reading “Disciplining in Love.” This is one in a series of letters I am writing to my daughter with the goal of compiling them into a book. Thank you for your support.