Wednesday, April 1, 2015

To Be Known As Mama

What makes me a mama?  What sets me apart and makes me Hannah's mama?  On a balmy January day (really, it was in the 70's that day), in Nanning, China, our daughter was ushered into a room, plopped on the floor in front of us, nudged in our direction and was told, "Mama!  Baba!" For the months leading up to our meeting, in our hearts and minds, we were fully her parents.  We were Mama and Baba.  We had prepared our hearts, our children, and our home to add Hannah as our child into our family.  Hannah, on the other hand, was not afforded as much grace.  Yes, she had received a photo book of our family and we do have documented photos of her looking at those pictures, but how many times did she read it?  How much did she understand? Does she even know what it means to be Mama or Baba?  When I held her in my lap that day, I knew I was her mother.  Today, I know I am her mother.  I know what that means and what her future holds as my child.  She doesn't.  I am not her Mama right now.  I am the lady who provides food to her, holds her when she needs it, tucks her in at night, and kisses her boo boos.  I don't mean that in a derogatory way, calling myself the lady.  I think it is an affectionate feeling toward me, as the lady who is currently in her life, but it isn't necessarily unique.  The lady is possibly temporary in her mind and likely replaceable.  Each day I interact with Hannah, I fight to move myself from the status of the lady to Mama.  Each day I pour out the best I have.  I provide for her.  I shower her with love and affection and all my attention.  How does she respond?  I assure you, she does not tell me thank you.  She is not glad this happened to her.  She is not thankful for her adoption story.  She does not see the end of her story.  She does not understand my intentions for her are all good--the best we have.  She responds in grief, not joy.  Yet still, I pursue her.

We are friends with many adoptive families and we follow several of them on Facebook or on their blogs.  We have rejoiced to see their little ones adjust to their new lives in America.  One thing, however, has really stood out to me and has created a cavern of longing within me.  Something each family has posted at some point in time is a post about their child calling them Mama for the first time or saying "I love you, Mama."  I have not had the opportunity to receive that gift yet.  I know it will come....I have no doubt it will come, but oh, to hear the word, Mama, in reference to me, come from the lips of our child......what a day that will be! She can't say a discernible Mama and while I have taught her the sign, she never really uses it to address me. I have struggled with that some. I long for her palate to be repaired and to hear her voice call out to me with a true, discernible Mama.

I think about that longing--the one in my heart to hear my child call me Mama, and I am gloriously reminded of my relationship with my Heavenly Father.  Each day He fights for the places of my heart that I cling to, that I fight to keep private and tucked away.  Each day He provides for me and lavishes riches upon riches on me--things I do not deserve.  Do I thank Him?  Do I respond with praise on my lips?  Or do I lash out when it doesn't go the way I had planned?  Do I doubt His intentions and goodness for me? Sure, I affectionately see Him and the traces of His hand, but do I know Him?

Last night was seriously one of the worst nights I've had as a parent. It actually involved biological children more than it did Hannah, but was B-A-D (so bad I had to shut the windows on a spring night--it was that bad). After all that and finally getting the B-A-D situation resolved, it was time for bed and the house was in our general state of organized chaos as everyone was getting ready (I sense a post coming about our organized chaos and how that fits in with my super planned organized self). Hannah was fussing at me and I couldn't discern what she wanted.  I finally just picked her up and said, "Do you just need some holding from Mama?" We were standing alone in the kitchen. I don't think I'll really ever forget that particular moment. Y' lasted all of about 1-2 minutes, but in that 1-2 minutes something happened. She looked at me. And it wasn't just looking at me. She saw me. AS HER MAMA. She looked at me and stroked my face as gently as she ever has with those sweet little Asian hands and she held my face cheek to cheek with hers and just stroked me. And looked into my eyes. And pulled me in for long, sweet, clefty kisses. Last night was the closest thing I have gotten to hearing her utter the word, Mama.  It was the closest thing I have gotten to having her acknowledge me in a way other than, the lady. I knew in that split moment, as she just needed holding from Mama and she pressed her face against mine and pulled me in for kiss after kiss--she got it. And then like the wind that blew that moment in, it was gone. Those moments don't come everyday and it won't be everyday that I think she fully sees me as Mama.  This wasn't a miracle moment that changed our relationship forever, but it was a step in the right direction.  It was a glimmer of hope that she is piecing together that I am different in her life.  I am not just merely, the lady. Last night--after that horrible, no good, very bad evening from nap till bed that we had experienced as a family, she needed holding. And instead of brushing her off, side tracking her, or pressing on with the chaos of bedtime, I stopped and picked her up. And I am so glad I did. She is getting it. In blinks of moments she is getting it. But somewhere deep in the recesses of her little heart and mind, I.AM.MAMA. And it felt good.

And it dawns on me now.  Is my Father simply, The Father?  Or is He Abba Father?  Does He long for me to break down the walls and draw into His presence and really see and know Him?  To see His intentions for me are nothing but good as He lavishes love upon me?  As an earthly parent I long so much to hear my sweet child acknowledge me as her Mama, to assign me the place of honor I want desperately to have in her life.  Do my lips utter the words Abba?  Do I know the intimacy that comes from knowing Him as only a child can know her parent?

My heart's cry is for not only me to draw yet nearer to Him, but in so doing, that as Hannah comes to know me.....imperfect, flawed, sinful Mama she can someday have the ability to know Him as Abba.

Oh, sweet Hannah.  If only you knew who I was, what my intentions are, or what the bigger picture is.  All I have for you is the best I have to give.  All I have for you is for your good. Little girl, I see the tiny bricks being laid.  I know the day will come.  It won't just be a glimmer of a moment or as fleeting as the wind.  You will know.  And I will know.  I am fully your Mama.  Not just a Mama.  Yours.  And your lips will utter it with full assurance, "You are MY Mama."  And the doubt will be gone.  And the grief will be just a quiet murmur in the background of life.  You will be secure in the arms or your Mama.

 Studying our photos in the album we sent her.

 Learning about forever Mama from her foster Mama.

 You, my dear, are my child--the one I longed for and prayed for.

May you always know the safety and security of rest in your Mama's arms.  You are right where God intended you to be.

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