Parenting this week has been… a challenge. I still have hair, so that’s a win, but every shred of patience and every nerve God provided my middle-aged body has been trounced. And when all my patience and nerves were nice and flat and lying on the floor like a cheap acrylic WalMart rug…. she took her expensive, new release Vans sneakers and stood on it and wiped her feet.
We have reached that pre-adolescent shift, the flip-flop of our orbit…. where things that used to be a priority don’t seem to be as important, and the things that were never thought of before are now front and center. I could take the time to explain that sentence in depth, but I trust that if you have children over the age of 12, you already get it. And if you have elementary aged children, good Lord…. get in the floor and play Barbies or race cars or whatever fun thing they want to do. Soak up that sweetness now… for the love of all that’s holy. The storm is coming. I have never loved as truly and as deeply and maddeningly frustrating as my love for a twelve year old daughter.
This week, in the midst of a tween’s epic forgetfulness – I had a doctor’s appointment. Everything is fine, and nothing of concern, but it was one of those unusual requests from the lady-parts doc. An appointment that requires an extra visit to the stirrups, and labs and questions. The experience of it brought the memories of fifteen-ish years ago flooding back:
My first husband and I tried to have a baby in Tucson, AZ. The infertility issue was mine, I mean yes, ours, but mine…. and so in my heart it felt like it was all my fault. The doctors, the medical bills, the shots, the hormones, the waiting. Hopeful procedures and the utter agony in crushed dreams when we’d find out it didn’t work. We’d gone before our church, and I was anointed with oil, an untold number of hands prayed over us that day. We tried a corrective surgery, and while I was still asleep in recovery, the doctor sat on the arm of a chair and told my then-husband and parents that I’d never carry a baby.
And then I fell apart. And life fell apart. And we fell apart. I was kind of a mess for awhile. And all of that is a story for another day, because fast forward a few years, to a warm June day in a Raley’s Supermarket in Lake Tahoe, Nevada…. with a pregnancy test in shaking hands…. no husband, no house, and no job…. we found out we were going to have a baby. Nomads. Living in a camper, traveling the country with one frying pan, a bean bag chair, and the cliched tank of dreams. Fast forward again, a Vegas detour to get married, and vomiting in every bathroom and truck stop across the entire United States. Nine months of barfing, and whirlwind, and chaos, and a precious, purple, screaming baby Ava was born into the world. My miracle. Her dad never knew the weight of infertility. I carried the denial of her, the life I thought I’d have without her – alone. And yet here she was, a gift we’d not expected, a life we were entrusted to care for, and the whole thing still boggles my mind.
Twelve years later, our bundle of adorable pink squish and giggles and all things ‘My Friends Tigger and Pooh’, has turned into a brooding and forgetful, half hilarious, half monster, black hoodie-cloaked body of emotions, that checks Instagram for boy-band announcements when she is supposed to be getting ready for school. From what I gather, this is the BEGINNING, Lord help us all. I love her with all that I am…. every cell in my body answers to the purpose of Mama. Our kids, yours too, they can’t yet understand the fire we’ll happily walk through to love them. Isn’t it funny how God works? I was literally pulling out my hair, and He stopped me in my tracks with a small event that would remind me, vividly, of life before Ava. That reminder was a breath of fresh, renewed determination. I am down for whatever drama is coming. The heartaches, slammed doors, World War Phone, the eye rolls, the white lies, every egg shell we walk on, and any nail polish carpet stains…. I am grateful to love her through it all.
Ava Grace I love you beyond measure. To the sun and back, because it is farther than the moon… and you can be twelve. I love you more than you being twelve. Or fourteen. Or seventeen. Or forty five. I am proud of you when you succeed, or when you fail. Love you when you laugh, or when you lie. I expect you to try to become the person God created you to be, but I will love you if you don’t. Because I was lucky enough to be chosen to be your mom, and that’s what moms do.