“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.”
I am relatively new to motherhood. I have a beautiful 22-month-old daughter, Belle. It feels like just yesterday I saw her tiny round fists and soft cheeks and wide eyes peeping at me from above the surgical sheet. She was so happy and curious, and tired. She was mine.
I didn’t sleep for the first three days of her life. I couldn’t; my heart was too full, my mind suddenly empty of everything I’d learned in the previous 22 years of my life. It’s like someone hit a reset button I didn’t know I’d been manufactured with, and I too was born on that dark July night.
I sat in my hospital bed and held her, rocked her, looked at her, rubbed her soft arms and cheeks between my fingers, and watched her sleep. I nursed her and changed her and didn’t want any other person to touch her. She was my little pearl, smooth and perfect as a stone rolled spherical by the sea.
Today, she will take my face in her hands, mumble a strange-sounding sentence, and kiss my forehead. She is snuggly and needy, in motion and independent.
The first few months of her life, I watched her change and grow, and saw too much. I cried for her first tooth, her first steps, her first sleepover, her wedding. I saw the horrors of the world, and I placed her in them, and I wept. I couldn’t stand the fact that I had given birth to someone so pure and perfect and innocent, and that she was doomed to know the pain of scraped knees and broken hearts and funerals and disenchanted dreams.
This world is so broken, full of so many broken people, among whom wander lions and jackals and vultures, looking for those who are ripe for the picking. I couldn’t stand the thought of her being one of the faces on a milk carton. Pools of my tears covered her head like a silent prayer, begging God just please, please, pleasepleaseplease not her… not my baby.
My heart, which flourished in some ways from the beauty and purity of her newness, was being cowed by a thief who stole into my garden and planted cruel, sharp, greedy weeds. He stayed and tended his weeds diligently, pulling up my life-giving fruits to make room for the tumbling wasteland he wanted me to be.
That probably sounds ridiculous, and super emotional, and crazy. I thought I was. I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I lashed out at my husband, my best friends, my family, and I withdrew into the growing dryness of my own soul. I had no strength to fight. All I could do was hold Belle and pray. I sang her lullabies and soothed her and wrapped my heart firmly in her little hands, so maybe, maybe, I would be safe from further uprooting.
Belle is a shortened version of her full name, Rosabelle. I picked this name for family reasons, but also because the name Rosabelle means noted protector. I thought it would be perfect for an eldest child, a big sister, but I didn’t think about how she would end up protecting me.
As she grew, learning how to roll over and smile and coo, learning how to crawl faster than I could run, she was digging new trenches among the weeds for redemptive seeds. I followed her, and God walked with us, gardening and watering her little life…and mine.
He showed me that in the midst of a broken and dying world, there was room for life and hope that saved the lost and weary. The tragedies and horrific parts of life would not swallow us whole, and would not be able to hold us for forever.
Every new breath that enters this world, every chance for choosing love over hatred, patience over fury, understanding over ignorance, is a seed that supplants the thistles, grows stronger and overpowers, because they are seeds from the gentle and experienced hand of a Father Who let His Son be taken by the darkness so we could have life, abundantly.
Lakin Easterling is a wife, mother, writer, and avid reader. She spends her days chasing her toddler, Belle, and conversing with the elderly who are afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia. She loves surprise coffee dates with her husband Luke, texting novels to her best friend, Laura Hyers, and being a college student. She dreams about being brave enough to get a tattoo, and believes in the healing power of a good cup of coffee. Her favorite nail polish is Sail Away by Milani. She blogs at http://threadingsymphonies.wordpress.com.
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