As we walk after school she says, Mama. The kids said mean things to me.
And I sigh.
So I counsel and hold and I sway with eight-year-old bony shoulders engulfed by my arms. I talk and make all the plans. And then I get on my knees and repeat the prayer I pray daily for her. O Lord, Make Haste to Save Us.
I can’t make the kids say nice things. I can’t make them like her. I can’t make the transition to a new school easy. I can’t make it okay.
Because you see, there’s always a gap. There is a gap between what I can do, what is possible as a human and what is needed. I’m not all that my husband “needs” so there is a gap and I’m not all that my children need, so there is a gap. There is a gap between my ability and reality.
I can discipline and pray. I can teach and give all of my time. I can create space and home time and easy afternoons, but at the end of the day, she is her own person. She has to make her own choices about how she responds to others and who she becomes. There is a gap between what I can do as a mother and the person she decides to be. And there is gap between how I can console as parent and the hurt that is thrust upon her by others.
That scares me mostly because I can’t control it.
Also. I’m tired.
I’m tired of being a mother sometimes. Not so tired that I walk away, but sometimes the thought of I-can’t-take-the-hamster-wheel-of-it-all any longer takes place in my mind. Simply stated, I’m tired.
I’m not just tired of the laundry but of the energy and the emotion. I’m tired because I can’t be all to all. I’m tired because I try to fill in that gap, but I’ll never be able to.
But now as I sit and pray that daily prayer I’m reminded that there have always been gaps.
There is a gap that we’ve never been able to span. It is the gap between earth and heaven. We are planet-bound with dirt for feet, but somehow we yearn for something else. We yearn for a bridge.
We needed a bridge. So God sent Jesus.
Jesus stands in this fissure, this giant one between heaven and earth, but He also stands in the small in-betweens that rise up when I can’t parent any longer.
When I end, He begins. It’s always been that way. It’s been that way with sin and death. And it’s been that way with parenting. With mothering. With being a wife.
The poet Gibran eloquently muses about children,
“Your children are not your children.…They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”
So I can give my daughters up to the world because Jesus takes over from there. I can give them up to the gap because in that gap there is a bridge. And that bridge is the One who cares more deeply about their well-being than even I do.