Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I'm Looking at Her, But I See Me

There have been so many moments (too many to count really) over the last several weeks that I've looked at my daughter--at something she's done or said--and I've seen myself. I'm sure that this has happened in the past with both of my boys but it really seems different with my little girl. My little fiery red-head Ella recently turned 3 and she is developing such a personality. Such strength, determination, and stubbornness. Yet, such gentleness, sensitivity, emotion, and a superb sense of humor. She's delightful and frustrating all at the same time. Sometimes I don't know whether to kiss her or stand her in the corner. Such personality! Such strength of character! I can see it in her...I just don't always see it in me.

The other morning I was feeding my baby breakfast in her high chair. Ella had been playing in her little kitchen but came over to the table to join us, her baby on her hips. As I was feeding Tessa I began to sing a worship hymn that we've been singing recently at our church, "Lord, whatever you're doing in this season...don't do it without me, don't do it without me." Ella studied my face intently. Within seconds she was watching my lips and attempting to mouth the very words I was singing. After a few rounds of the chorus, she had it! She sang it over and over. And she didn't just sing it; she meant it! I could see right through her little face into her heart. Such a gentle spirit.

Every so often I get headaches. Ella will give me lots of kisses and say, with such sweetness, "It's okay baby." One time in particular stands out because she prayed for me, "Dear Lord, thank you for loving Mommy's head. Amen." She has compassion for others so naturally. She is also sensitive and her feelings are easily hurt. Quite the challenge for a parent learning to appropriately and consistently discipline. I don't want to bring her to tears because then we've missed the point. Other times, her stubbornness kicks in and she gets a very gruff look on her face and tells me not to look at her. And if her Father has to correct her...uh-oh, watch out, here come the tears! She can be quite dramatic when the mood calls for it, which is apparently often, and I'm reminded of another little girl who was easily brought to tears.

Earlier today we were driving home from the park and a familiar song came on the radio. As I was singing at an almost obnoxious level, I looked in my rear view mirror to see my little girl singing along. Her voice was so soft, but she sang with such expression and emotion on her face, "....don't be afraid to stand out-that's how the lost get found!" It's the ring tone on my cell phone. I have prepared many dinners while she has had me play it over and over, dancing and mouthing the words--so seriously. As I was in my car looking in that rear view mirror I realized I was looking in the rear view mirror of my own life. As a little girl I loved singing. I remember belting out the tunes of my Dad's Barbara Streisand records. I would stand on the fireplace hearth and pretend to hold a microphone. "New York State of Mind" was my all-time favorite! He would turn it up so loud and I would sing as loudly as I could. (Maybe he was secretly trying to drown out my voice). I was looking in the rear view mirror of my own life while looking at my daughter....and seeing my future in her face! Does that make sense? I know I am not her and she is not me. She is a very different and distinct person altogether; stronger, more compassionate, more loving, and more gentle. But, at the same time, she is so much like me it's like looking in a mirror. And I can almost see the woman she will become.

Okay, to be fair (or maybe just honest--not so fair really), when I look in my bathroom mirror I see a very different reflection. I see crow's feet, laugh lines, wrinkles on my forehead that deepen almost daily, age spots (that my husband claims not to see at all....God bless him!), and a few straggling grays (which I completely blame on my 4 children). And that's just from the neck up! We won't discuss the rest of the reflection. Ella, on the other hand, has beautiful red hair with soft curls, deep brown eyes, a pure complexion, naturally rosy cheeks, and possibly the cutest little legs you've ever seen! Okay. Maybe I'm biased, but I think she's beautiful and breathtaking, inside and out!

It's really not so much that my reflection has changed, though it has. It's more accurate to say that the mirrors I'm looking into have changed. I'm looking into living, breathing, wide-eyed, strong, yet fragile and pliable mirrors--4 of them to be precise! These mirrors are changing day by day and I get to be a part of that change! What an unbelievable honor and a heavy responsibility! As parents, we bear this responsibility for each of our children. We help them become who they are meant to be. We see strengths and help our children to use them. We see weaknesses and help our children to overcome them. We see potential and help our children to reach it! I looked in the rear view mirror at my little red-head singing along to one of her favorite tunes I realized that I am responsible for a whole lot. Not me alone. But, I don't take this responsibility lightly. Who could? I look at her and at each of my children, and I see so much of me. I see the good. I see the not so good. I hear my daughter speak gently to her baby and tuck her in with kisses and I'm encouraged as a mom. I hear her fuss at her brother and huff as she stomps away, and I'm reminded of my own struggles and shortcomings. All of these gazes into the mirror cause me to take a longer look at myself. Who am I when I look in the mirror? What reflection do I really see? What needs to change? What has to change? It's no doubt that she's looking at me. So....what does she see?

I pray today, Let the reflection I see when I look in the mirror be one that is more like God. Let me reflect good and not evil. Let me reflect the love of God so that when my children look at me, they see God's love at work. I realize the weight of this responsibility of parenting my children. And, just as I look at her and see me, help her to look at me and see You Lord.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent stuff, Steph! I can relate - my kids are 9, 8 and 4, and wow do they show! I so want them to see Jesus in me, too.