Today a woman at Ikea offered me her kid.
Just like that.
“You wanna little girl?” she asked, as she restrained her squirmy, crying 2 year-old daughter from grabbing potato chips from a bin.
“Sure. I’ll take her,” I said.
“You wouldn’t want her,” she insisted.
“Sure I would. She’s AWESOME!” I said.
But the Mom wasn’t accepting my offer to back up from what she was saying. “Not today,” she insisted again.
“Well,” I said, trying to sound like a seasoned mother. (After all, I was at least 10 years her senior.) “They are only two for one year.”
“Thank God,” she said. “You can have her.”
With that, she scooped the little treasure up in her arms, threw her onto her hip and hobbled to a table while she balanced both treasure and food at once, all the while kicking a stroller in front of her.
The little girl turned her head back to me and said, “Hi!” in a chirpy way that only a devious little rotter can do once she’s totally exasperated her mother.
I smiled at her and waved, but my heart was sad.
I wasn’t sad for the Mom, who obviously had had enough of the craziness of her day with a toddler. All mothers have been there at one point or another, and we’ve all expressed our frustrations when we probably shouldn’t have.
I was sad for the little brown-haired girl.
The problem was that the words being spoken to me, a complete stranger, were all said in front of the little girl, who obviously comprehended it all as she stood inquisitively, head-tilted to the side, as she stared up at her mother.
Really? Give her away? Why would you speak that over your child?
She had no idea who she was talking to. Instamom was angry. Had she not been pulled away by her family, I would have given a speech.
See, I have a little girl too. She’s 11 and she’s awesome. Anyone who has an 11 year-old knows that not everyone in her life is going to remind her of her awesomeness. Rather, they will pick out every flaw, whether real or perceived, and point it out to her.
That’s where her parents come in. There are enough people in the world to remind our daughters of their challenges. There are enough people who will speak death into them. There are enough people who will make them feel unaccepted and unwanted.
We are the life-givers. We are the ones who remind them of who they were meant to be, that God has a plan, and that He created them to be their awesome selves.
I didn’t get to have my daughter at 2 ½. I got to be her mother when she was 8 ½. She was way past the crazy toddler stage and the “terrible twos”. She was a big grown-up girl, and she already had her world view and her view of herself formed in her head and heart. So we are on a journey with her, and we are reminding her all the time of how talented, beautiful, funny and amazing she is. We remind her of how God has a plan for her life and that she is our chosen daughter.
We have pictures of her as a baby and toddler, which were lovingly compiled by her biological grandmother. Sometimes I like to look at those pictures of a time in her life that I never got to see. Sometimes I can’t.
She had big blue eyes, chubby cheeks and a gorgeous smile. There are pictures of her laughing, hugging little brothers and playing at the park. Those pictures remind me of how many things I didn’t get to experience with her. There are memories of friends, teachers, caregivers, toys, blankies, first tooth, first steps and first friends I will never know. I will never know how she smelled when she came out of the bathtub or get to catch her when she tried to take her first steps. There are so many milestones that I will never get to share with her.
See, she was only 2 for one year. I would give anything to have been there to experience it, but I wasn’t. In God’s plan, we came together as a family years later, and we’re okay with that. It is what it is, and that was God’s choice for us.
I’m still a rookie mom, but one huge thing I have learned is how quickly kids grow up. Three years of parenting has gone by in a flash and we wonder where the time went.
Someday that crazy little toddler will be gone, and it happens before you know it. So don’t miss it, Mommy. Celebrate your milestones, laugh at the silliness, correct stuff that needs correcting, but enjoy what you have and celebrate it while you have it. Someday she will be much older and your words, more than anyone else’s, will be the ones that echo in her heart. She will be a woman.
And it happens in a blink.