Author, Kristi Bothur
My daughter is now three-and-a-half, and while her twos were “terrific” rather than “terrible”, ever since she turned three, she has exerted her independence in new, and sometimes frustrating, ways. Gone is the baby who went where I took her without complaint, who snuggled in close whenever I needed a hug, and who wore whatever cute outfit I dressed her in. In her place is an opinionated little girl who dawdles when it’s time to leave, insists on wearing her favorite outfit instead of mine, and who locks her bedroom door so she can have “privacy.”
In the areas that are a matter of preference, I’m learning to let go and give her room to express herself. In other areas, I’m insisting on respect, obedience, and rules for her safety and well-being. And as we’ve replayed this ancient mother-daughter tug-of-war, an interesting refrain has come into our conversations.
“When you were a little girl, did you pick your nails?”
“When you were a little girl, did you take lots of paper towels?”
“When you were a little girl, did you hit your mommy?”
“When you were a little girl, did you sit in time-out for disobey your mommy?”
Her questions always make me slow down and smile. In those moments, my frustration leaks out, and my patience returns. No, I was not perfect either. And just as my parents reared me, watching patiently as I learned how to be my own person, so I need to be patient with my daughter as she grows up and stretches her wings.
I also wonder what is going on in her sweet head as she asks her questions. I think it is the desire to connect with her mommy, to find a common point where I am not the authority figure and she is not the one being told what to do, but we are both little girls struggling with life together.
Don’t we all want that? I know I do. I want to know that others have gone through the same things I have and have come out whole on the other side. That I’m not the only mom to lose her temper with her much-loved child. Or the only wife to argue with her husband. Or the only woman to struggle with her faith after losing a baby in my womb. I want to know I’m not the only one struggling with life.
That’s where friendships come in, and support groups, and the attraction of online communities like Parenting After Infertility & Loss Ministries. These are places where we can build connections with others and know we’re not alone as we struggle with life together.
That’s also where Jesus comes in. God was not content to give us orders from on high. He came to earth Himself, walked around with us, got dirty, experienced the same things we do. The apostle John says that Jesus “tabernacled among us” – in modern language, he pitched his tent in the midst of our own. And just like my daughter takes comfort in knowing that her mommy was once a little girl, too, we can take comfort in knowing that Jesus shared fully in our humanity. He is not “a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus was indeed Immanuel, “God with us” – and we can know that the God who was with us then is still with us now, giving us the power to rise above the struggle with victory as we “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Kristi Bothur is a pastor’s wife and mother of four – one on earth and three in heaven. She and her husband have a ministry called Naomi’s Circle (www.naomiscircle.weebly.com), which reaches out to other parents who have experienced pregnancy loss or early infant death. They also have a website, Uni-Kids For Christ (www.unikidsforchrist.weebly.com) to encourage Christian parents of only children, whether by choice or by circumstance.