Minnesota Christian Writers Guild Written Word Award
Tomorrow. The dictionary tells me tomorrow is simply the day following today. My tomorrow doesn’t feel so simple, and I wonder if my body will remember how to breathe with the weight of grief pressing my lungs.
I hear a crash followed by wails and look to see Baby Girl on the floor. She quiets as I scoop her up. Her head settles on my shoulder while the rest of her sweet frame nestles into my body. Her crazy brown curls still hold the scent of baby shampoo from last night’s bath accentuated by bits of this morning’s mushed banana. Her weight falls into me perfectly. Even though Baby Girl was not born of my womb, our bodies know each other. My chest and arms accept her without question.
Her breath evens. I sigh.
I have loved this sweet girl for ten of her fourteen months of life. We’ve been up together most of those 300 nights as she seeks to be assured she’s safe. And although my 46 year old body would love nothing more than to sleep eight straight hours, I’m awed at the privilege of being her Mommy For Now.
But, For Now ends tomorrow.
I’ve been her witness these last ten months. Seen her first roll over. Helped her learn to sit up. Fed her her first cereal. Laughed at her awkward baby crawl. Cheered her first steps. Taught her baby signs. Prayed over her. Cried over her. And, simply marveled at her resiliency and God’s perfect design.
Oh, she feels like mine. But she’s not.
Baby Girl’s mom has pulled herself out of dark places and pieced her life together. She has fought the uphill battle of addiction and won. Really, what she’s accomplished is amazing.
I should cheer. But instead I fear.
Who will sing for Baby Girl when she’s sad? Who will rub her head as she drinks her bottle? Who will read her No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed? She scolds those monkeys with great conviction and makes us all laugh. Mostly though, I wonder, who is going to show Baby Girl the ways of the Lord?
I’ve only had ten months with her. But my time is up.
Her world is righted, so Baby Girl contests my hug and wriggles herself free. She slides down my leg and waddle-runs across the room with the pink ruffles on her bum punctuating every move. She grabs her doll and squeezes. What a beauty.
Another beauty, Anna my 17 year old, walks through the room on her way to Pascal, her tiny lime green car. Her long blonde hair is pulled into a ponytail and her tee “Not without my coffee” tells me she’s on the way to her work at the local coffee shop. She pauses to hug Baby Girl and to tell me her plans. I sneak in a squeeze of my own and release her to her day.
This darling was born of my womb. I’ve witnessed all of her firsts and watched her grow into her middle name of Grace. She’s an observer and a thinker. An avid reader and coffee drinker. Her thoughts are often beyond me. She’s going to be a world-changer.
Yet, our tomorrow looms too. College and Adulthood crouch at my door ready to claim her.
I’m her Mom, and I worry.
Who will tell her she’s beautiful each morning? Who will hand her dark chocolate during exam week? Who will screen the boys I know will be competing for her attention? Who will help her with adulting?
I’ve only had seventeen years with her. But my time is almost up.
And I remember, I’m really her Mom For Now.
Anna Grace does not belong to me any more than Baby Girl. Yes, our DNA is linked, but she is a gift from my Abba. Just as He blessed me with the sweetness of loving Baby Girl for ten months, He’s blessed me with the joy of loving Anna Grace for 17 years.
Both beauties are on loan to me. Gifts that make me weep with awe that I should be so entrusted.
God is their Father. He is good. Always good. He is sovereign. And I know He sees them.
I must choose to praise Him and to trust Him.
He reminds me, in Psalm 146, that He promises to remain faithful forever. These verses fit my Baby Girl. He will execute justice for the exploited, give food to the hungry, raise up the oppressed and help the fatherless. I hope Baby Girl will never be hungry, but she is fatherless, and it feels like her childhood has already been exploited by someone else’s choices. So, I work hard to rest in these promises. He will be faithful forever.
For Anna Grace, our Father promises to complete the good work He has started in her. Jesus says He will never leave her or forsake her. And, when she does struggle through the rough seas of life, I will rest in knowing He is working all, absolutely all, things for her good.
Baby Girl careens towards me and thrusts her doll at my face. I swoop her up and she clings to me, her Mommy for Now. I hold her tight, grateful for this moment.
Tomorrow my heart will break. And again at my next tomorrow. Even though I’ll cheer as I release these girls, I’ll weep in private.
But then, this Mommy For Now will cling to God, the great I AM. He is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth; the same yesterday today and forever.
Even for my tomorrow.