I knew it would happen, but I forgot how much it would hurt. I had just spent the weekend away with a friend of mine, two depleted mamas making space to simply be and create and laugh and rest. It was only the second time in two years I was away from my daughter overnight, and reentry back home was painful.
“Mama, I don’t want you to hold me. I want Dada.”
“No, Mama, not you!”
Over and over again, as the week went on.
Less eye contact. More distance. Hurtful words. A brick wall built between us — born of sadness, sustained by stubbornness.
The sting numbed my body all over again, just like it did in China in 2018 when I realized my new twenty-month-old daughter preferred my husband over me. After years of grieving infertility, begging God for a baby, and waiting for my girl, I kind of forgot to consider that I might not be all she needed.
When we met Vera, I was able to hold and comfort her first, but after she went to my husband, we soon found out she didn’t want to come back to me. I swallowed my pride and yearning, tears streaming down my face. As mamas (new and old), we know what our babies need, and we’d die to ourselves a thousand times to make sure they feel loved. But that doesn’t mean our feelings always fade as quickly as we’d like.
I was a brand-new mama, with brand-new-mama hopes that were quickly crumbling. The enemy was wedging his way into our sacred space. Her comfort, safety, and well-being were most important. I knew that. I acted on it. But silently, I suffered.
I wanted to be the one she wanted.
I wanted to hold her.
I wanted to comfort her.
I wanted my longing heart to be fulfilled.
That was the problem: I was depending on my new title of “Mama” to be the missing piece, and instead God had something else in mind.
In the midst of my self-doubt, in our two weeks in China, God showed me tiny, beautiful slivers of light and peace, representing the full and strong bond that was to come for Vera and me, little moments paving the way for a big love. And in our two-and-a-half years together since, He’s overwhelmed my soul with the bright and thriving relationship I have with my sweet girl.
But there are days where my insecurities flare up and my faith fizzles out, when my daughter chooses my husband over me, over and over again. And I crack and lock myself in the bathroom to cry.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, we learn that Paul had a thorn in his side:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
My daughter preferring my husband is a thorn in my side.
I believe God keeps it there to remind me that my worth is not in motherhood. Vera cannot, will not, or should not ever feel responsible for making me whole. Only Jesus can do that. And the beauty of it is it means I can take the pressure off myself. I don’t have to try so hard to pry open closed doors or wriggle my way back to the loving space I know exists between my daughter and me. Instead, I can just be the person He created me to be, show her unending warmth and kindness, and in her own time, when she’s ready, she’ll find her way back and settle into my arms.
After a week of being home from my girl’s trip, after caving into the enemy’s lies and then filling back up on God’s truth and finally believing it, Vera let me back in. Full force. Back into the silliness and tenderness of my sweet four-year-old. Back to the fullness of our bond that is not lacking. Back to reaching for me and snuggling into my side.
“I like hanging out with you so much, Mama.”
I felt relief — like we’d made it through the trenches yet again. But I know it only came because of Him. I know it only came because I took a step back, relaxed, and believed deep in my soul that I already love this little girl the biggest and best way I know how. And more than that, He loves me. There’s nothing more for me to prove or do or try, except let go of my desperation to be chosen by her, because I’m fully, graciously, and fervently chosen by Him.Leave a Comment