I watched the child sleep and wonder where in the cosmos she exactly came from, out of what thought she materialized, this full-bodied grace.
The woods, I have always said this one came from the woods.
A whole summer of barely mornings, I had ridden my bike down through the woods, through pure light dappled, dew still on the bike handles, and I had begged Him for her. Begged Him for a bit of that light. All children are light and more light. Her hair swirls in slumber. Gold mist. The light had been that.
I know there’s crud around the faucet in the mudroom. I need to vacuum grit out of bedroom carpets. I stay here and watch her just breathe. There are wonders, it’s true, you can’t just easily turn from.
Out of what nothingness spun this grace?
When did I start seeing children as commonplace and stop seeing motherhood as a holy place?
What edge of the world cuts us so jaded that a child isn’t the eternal wealth we guard with our time and our words?
When I dried her off from swimming last week, her spindly legs, her slender arms and slip of wrists, she had kept dripping and I had cupped her face before the moment drained away too and I thought of all the swimmers I’ve towelled off and how there won’t be many more times and how and why did I get here so fast and I turn my back so none of the other mamas will see that I’m the one dripping at the edge of the pool, one of her ringlets dangling over me, a bestowing.
I had this, all this. I might not have.
At the poolside, she had smiled and reached to cup me too, us both with wet cheeks, us both laughing anyways, her eyes so blue and I could see straight through that she is never for me, children never for us, to please us, to fulfill us, but I am for her, to nurture and protect and serve and children are the gift and parents are the ones who give. I know not of tiger mothers, but He speaks of lamb mothers with the heart of the Lion of Judah who lay down their lives for the sheep. Who lay down happiest laughter, realest joy, lay down story and wonder and questions and discovery and prayers and protective boundaries and words that make souls stronger, who lay down memoried loved upon memoried love and here we might.
In her sleep, she stirs and I am stirred too. I get to do this!
This moment isn’t a forever grace but amazing grace.
I slip a strand from her face, from this one who came from the woods, love always coming from the Tree, the sacrifice laid down.