Saturday, April 28, 2012

She called me {Mommy}

I am shocked, embarrassed, and nervously laugh.  It's crowded in this coffee shop and people can hear.  "Mommy!" she says it again as she throws her arms around my neck.  "Don't call me that, hon.  I'm not your Mommy," I quietly respond.  "Mommy!" she labels me even louder this time.  I look around and worry who heard her.  I smile and busy her with a new coloring page as she sits on my lap and tells about the all different colors she's using, and how yummy her smoothie is.  We continue our Bible study once she settles down, and soon her grandpa comes to pick her up.  We gather her things, and hug goodbye for several moments.  "I love you!" she shouts.  I reciprocate, and I kiss her several times.  She does the same.  I watch her walk out, and she yells, "Love you!" one more time.  I don't feel adequete to fill this place in her life. 

After she leaves, one of the women in our Bible study, an adoptive mom, looks at me and shares something I hadn't thought of.  "I know your probably uncomfortable," she says, "but that word speaks volumes.  You help meet those needs, and she feels comfortable around you.  When my boys began calling me 'Mom' I knew that they knew I loved them and they looked to me to nurture them.  I see the same in your relationship with her."  I hadn't thought of it like that, her calling me mom as a way of telling me I hold an important place in her life.  That she knows I love her, I care about her, I would do anything for her. 

I pick her up from school, and we walk out the front door.  I am about to ask her how she was doing when she grabs my hand.  "Mommy..." she says as we walk towards my car.  I look down and smile at her, and ask her how her day was.  I know this time not to tell her not to call me that.  I know not to encourage it either.  So I just smile and thank God for this new thing He's doing. 

Every relationship she has is an unconventional one.  Her mom is a drug addict, a prostitute, in and out of jail.  Her grandma left the family one year ago.  That leaves her with grandpa, an amazing man who takes care of this precious 5-year-old, giving up everything that would normally consume his days and instead caring for her.  On top of all that, she has a tumor in her leg.  Five sugeries or more in the last five years, and many more to come in the future.  The tumor keeps returning.  She's brave, she's resiliant, she needs love.  And last year when I met her, I had no idea she would fit into our family so perfectly.

When we're out at the grocery store, I never know what to tell people who ask if she's my sister, or my daughter, or just a girl a babysit.  The truth is, she's none of these.  I would say the most accurate description of her role in our family is this:  I'm half mom and half sister, and my mom's half mom, half grandma.  My dad's like an uncle, and my brothers are just that, brothers to her.  She's more than just a girl I babysit, but not fully my sister either.  I have no answer for those to ask.  What do I say?

Whenever I tell people that her grandpa's decided to take her out of daycare this summer to be with me full time, I hear, "Wow.  That's a big sacrifice for a 16-year-old.  Are you sure you want that much responsibility?" or "Every day? What about friends? And won't you get tired of her?" These are totally normal, valid, and expected responses.  In fact, I might have asked the same questions a while ago to someone else.  But God showed me something about this responsibility that the world views as a burden.  Because she deserves a stable female in her life.  Someone to scoop her up when she gets hurt, to comfort her when she has a tummy ache.  Someone to tuck her into bed each night, to read her stories and someone to confide in.  And she has these things in Grandpa, thank God.  But I don't think anyone could replace "Mom."  And especially because she did have all of these things in Grandma, who she has no contact with just one year later.  Heartbreaking is the only word I can think of.

So I've realized that it doesn't matter what I want.  It doesn't matter that some days I'm sure I'll wake up and just want to sleep in, not get a five-year-old dressed and fed and ready for a full day.  I'm sure I'll get tired of reading the same books every day, tired of going to the zoo one more time or dealing with the occasional tantrum.  But it doesn't matter.  This is something that God Himself has asked me to do.  And if I help fill that role of the important female in her life, then who cares what I want? I know that caring for her will cause me to lean on the Lord in a entirely new way.  Each moment of I'm watching her, I will be begging Him for patience, grace, understanding, and wisdom in caring and loving her.  And anything that causes me to stay close to Him, I count as a blessing.  And she certainly is! She brings so much joy to our family, so much laughter, so much youthfulness.  When she prays the most down-to-earth prayers, it reminds us what life is about.  So yes, this is what I want, because I want to be in the will of God, making an impact.  She's not a burden, she's a blessing!  She's a joy.  And not to mention she's the cutest, sweetest, funniest, most well-behaved five year old I've ever met!  We love this girl.





-Elise

1 comment:

  1. love it love it love it love it love it elise!!!!! and i love this little girl :) that was said perfectly! -love sarah

    PS call me back :)

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