My Child of Joy

My second-born is Abigail.  Her name means “The Father’s Joy.”  We named her that after she was several hours old when I realized how much she reminded me of how very much God loves me.  He just spoils me rotten.  All the time.  It’s kind of ridiculous, really.  And when Abby was about 5 hours old—and still nameless— I became absolutely overwhelmed with how much He had spoiled me—yet again— by blessing me with the life of this perfect, beautiful, healthy baby girl.  Whose delivery had only taken 2 hours from start to finish!  Just after my baby shower ended, at around 5pm ten days before she was due, I had my first contraction.  She was born at 7:04pm.  That… was… awesome.  Thank You, Jesus!  Thank You, Abby!

And this little girl has certainly lived out her name to the fullest.  Abby is the most passionate, deep feeling human I have ever met.  Yes, sometimes she creates chaos and drama in the house with all her zeal… but there’s also no one like her in the world who can feel the joy of life as deeply as she can.  For better or for worse, this girl feels her feelings.  And while some days it’s more than I can handle, I really do love and admire this rawness she lives out.

IMG-20110419-01180I remember when she was 6, she had left a library movie out—after I had reminded her six times to put it away so the puppy wouldn’t chew it— and… the puppy chewed it up.  Totally destroyed.  So I made her pay for it out of her own money.  (I think it was going to cost something like $12, which she had because she had recently gotten some Christmas money.)  When we got to the library to pay for the destroyed movie, she just leaned against the wall outside of the building and wept.  Her face was all botchy and puffy and her shoulders sagged and her entire countenance was droopy and forlorn.  She looked pitiful.  When I finally dared to broach a conversation with her (she’s typically pretty unreachable when she’s in “the depths of despair,” as Anne Shirley once said), I asked her what she was so upset about.  She said, through sniffles and chest heaves, “The Library already has so many books and movies— they are rich!  They don’t need any more money.” (Heave, sniffle, sob.) “Plus, I was saving my money to give to poor people!!! They need my money more than the Library does!”

 

Oh, honey. My sweet, sweet, girl.

That was a rough day.  Because while she understood that she had been irresponsible with something that didn’t belong to her, her sweet little generous heart really was saving up her money to give a big chunk to World Vision.  I think she was hoping to buy a goat or some ducks for a needy family.  And of course I want to encourage her compassion and generosity… but… even though the library did, as she observed, have lots of books and movies, she still needed pay them for ruining their property.

Ugh.  That was a tough one.

That Abby of mine has enchanted me from day one.  I remember when she was a baby and first started smiling.  There was something simply magical about her smile.  I felt all lit up inside whenever she would flash it at me.

abby highchair

abby

christmas

And now she’s almost ten years old.

I really can hardly believe it.

My tender-hearted, vivacious, unselfish, energetic young “child of joy” is becoming a young lady.

abby

She’s quieter now.  And trying to learn how to control those emotional explosions that have trademarked her for so long.  She’s working hard on trying to learn who she is and manage herself.  She reads a lot now.   And loves getting lost on video games if I allow her some screen time.  She loves when swim season rolls around and she can settle into the rhythm of the stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe, stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe.  She’s always been more of a doer than a chatterbox— putting her heart into words has never come easy for her… and I find myself wondering at the mystery of her now.

Her smile still makes me feel like it’s Christmastime inside my soul.  And she still makes me sweet gifts and writes precious notes from time to time… but I feel like she is slipping away from me as she grows up and is finding her way in the world.

I ache at this. There’s a pulling on my chest and a lump in my throat as I wonder at how to stay connected to this beautiful riddle of a girl who once upon a time wrote me this most precious of poems:abby's poem to me

Abby is a growing young lady who, I know, still needs guidance and tenderness and snuggles.  She is still very much a little girl in many ways.

But there is a shift happening.  I can sense it.  And I’m feeling a little lost at how to keep close to her…

me and abby

 

 

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What about you?

Do you have a child who is going through “a phase” in which you find it challenging to connect with him or her in the way you used to?  Do you have any grown children and, if so, do you have any tips for me on how to not only endure but also thrive during this new phase of young adulthood I am about to enter with both my daughters?

Please feel free to email me or share your thoughts or experiences to the comment section below.