When I was 19 years old I remember saying that “if I’m not married by the time I am 22 I’m going to DIE!”
Ok, dramatic? Yes. But in the world I knew then, not so far fetched. Some of my girlfriends from high school were already married, many more well on their way. I felt a little sad, a little lonely and a bit left out. Why wasn’t I in on all of that? Once, I thought it might be within reach, but loving someone and loving the idea of someone are very different things. Luckily, I learned to differentiate before making a big mistake.
Fast forward and it’s 8 years later. I have a daily conversation with my daughter that goes like this:
“Annie, say Mama”
And I know, it’s just because of how language develops. I know, it’s just a sound. Those words mean nothing to her but oh, they pierce my heart. It kills me to know that my baby doesn’t have an earthly father in her life.
Someday I will have to tell her of a papa who walked away… I don't know how to do that. I have no idea how to put into words what circumstances would cause anyone walk away from that amazing little girl. How can I explain to her something I don’t understand? Her birth mom visits her often, she loves her fiercely! Her papa came once, he wanted to see her, he held her and smiled and said she was beautiful. I know that he loved her in that moment, I saw it in his eyes, but when he put her down and walked away, I never heard from him again. I have his photo, there is no question that is her papa, she looks just like him. He knew too and when he looked at her he claimed her, he said it. But still, he walked away.
Someday she will ask and I will have to tell her and I have no idea how to do that. No doubt God has already whispered the words that I need. I pray I have the wisdom to hear them.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would be 27th years old, blessed with the most incredible child the world has ever known, and be doing it alone. Being a single mother was never an idea I entertained. It wasn’t one of my childhood plans. It doesn’t fit with what I thought I wanted at all. This situation isn’t the one of my dreams, but she is. This breathtaking little girl that fills every day with joy and laughter and more love than I ever knew I had to give. She changed my life and my dreams and the things I wanted and even needed. My calling to Haiti began long before I saw her face and it will continue for long beyond what it takes for her to be mine forever. This calling was never about her or even me but this calling changed when she arrived. Because now this foreign land is my home, because it is where my family it. It’s here for as long as it takes for my baby and I do the work He has prepared and learn the lessons He is teaching. My dreams are in her future and the incredible things I know she will accomplish, my perseverance is in teaching her to serve alongside me for His glory.
I have a father here on this earth and there are no words to describe how blessed I am by him. I look at my daughter and I think I get a glimpse of his love towards me. One day, in the blink of an eye and a lifetime ago, I was that baby and he stood over my crib and thought and dreamed about what I would be. I’m guessing this surprise life never crossed his mind but I have never once doubted that he loved me or that I made him proud. I know it because he tells me and I understand why his eyes fill with tears when we talk about it. Because now, I know what it’s like to have a child that you love more than life, to know that whatever she does, it will be incredible and you will be outrageously proud.
And still, among the blessings and joy and peace He gives, this isn’t how I thought it would be. Some days it’s not even what I want it to be. I know that no one ever thinks that someone else’s child is as beautiful as their own. Some nights while I watch her sleep I long for someone to share in the wonder of her with me. To stare at her and whisper over her amazingness. To marvel over her tiny fingers and toes and dream about her future. Someday a man may come along who is just crazy enough to look at this adventure and want to be a part of it. A man that will win both her heart and mine. It may happen or it may not. Either way, as I daydream and long for those moments I am reminded so purposefully that her true daddy is there, standing beside me, staring at this beautiful child that He knit together, marveling at her beauty. The perfect Father. Abba, hers and mine.
So for now, while she chatters over and over “dada, dada” I will just keep smiling and laughing like it’s the most adorable thing in the world and I will combat the piercing pain in my heart, I will fight the feelings of failure that come with not giving her a daddy here, with the promise that I know. My God is a father to the fatherless. My baby needs a daddy and if she never has an earthly one, she is still forever be marked on the palms of His hands. His precious daughter. His beloved child.