We recently took the front off our 2-1/2-year-old’s crib, and while we improvised a rail to prevent her from falling out, her once cozy cocoon is now different. She’s still perfectly safe, but that one change is big enough to bring a degree of uncertainty and fear to her little world. All of a sudden, there are shadows in her room. Spooky shadows, she says, like Curious George saw.
So we sing our bedtime songs and pray. She asks for a cuddle. I curl up on the edge of her bed, hold her hand, and stroke her head. She snuggles into her nest of stuffed animals and closes her eyes. I watch her (presumably) drift off to sleep and am overcome with my own uncertainty and fear.
I’m raising a daughter.
I’m raising a daughter.
How am I supposed to do that?
How am I supposed to teach her all the things she needs to know when I don’t even know them?
How do I raise a child as a Christian when I still have my doubts and uncertainties, if not about God, then about parts of Christian culture? How do I teach her to navigate the crazy rules concocted by the world and the church without losing her mind or her self or her love for Christ?
How do I instill that which I am just beginning to grasp? That it’s not about following man’s rules, that I don’t have to fit some mold, that it’s about deep, saving love beyond my wildest imagining, love I can barely begin to comprehend without breaking down in tears?
How do I pray for her? How do I teach her these bigger things when I can barely get through the day of work and preschool drop-off and meals and dishes and “don’t hit the kitty, that makes him sad and scared” and figuring out basic teaching and discipline? If I don’t get to those bigger things now, if they get lost in the every day, have I completely messed up and missed out?
Some form of these thoughts rush through my mind as I curl up on her crib, feel her tiny hand grasp mine as it has done since day one. She opens her eyes and says, “No macaroni and cheese. Don’t want it. Eggs and toast. No want them,” and I am, as ever, delighted and bewildered by her. I assure her that she does not have to eat macaroni and cheese or eggs and toast tonight and she settles again.
I kiss her, extricate myself, and head to her door. Her little voice pipes up again:
“We be brave together, mama.”
That’s it. That’s exactly what I need, what we need.
I don’t have to do this alone. I don’t have to hold it together because that’s His job. He protects me as I serve and hold fast to Him. Maybe it’s enough to settle in His love and grace, to learn as we go, together.
Brave in Christ. Brave together.
We be brave together, baby girl. Tonight and always.