Yeah, I know how that sounds.
Hey, I’m the first to admit that I’m no Hannah.
Hannah was a woman in the bible who begged God to remove her barrenness—okay, so maybe I’m a little like Hannah—and in exchange, agreed to give her child, her son, back to Him upon weaning.
Yep, that’s where we differ.
Of course, in the Old Testament, “give him back” meant literally sending her son away. Samuel lived in the temple and served the priests of the day.
But obviously Hannah was on to something. Samuel later became a great prophet, the one who anointed King David (see 1 Samuel: 1).
So here’s my thing: Like Hannah, I had enough faith in His power to believe that he could open my womb after two miscarriages and give me and my husband a baby. But somewhere over the course of this motherhood journey I’ve been on, I’ve resisted fulfilling my part of the deal: turning over my daughter to Him.
And no, I don’t mean dropping her off at the church to live. LOL!
What I mean by “turning her over” is…when I’ve done all I can and am supposed to do as her mother, being willing to surrender her well-being, her development, her future to the One who has control of it anyway.
That’s hard, y’all. Way hard.
It’s hard because I’ve found that I primarily parent out of my own pain. On top of hearing the stories of all the horrible things happening to our children day in and day out on the news, I haven’t fully reconciled my own stuff, my own pains and therefore, I base what I allow my child to experience, do or see, partially on whether or not I was hurt in that particular area.
The result? I unconsciously transfer my fears to her.
Here’s an example: My daughter loves to give hugs. She’s a loving, rambunctious, aggressive toddler that will try to topple you over with hugs and kisses. And by YOU, I mean ANYONE. Yes, even strangers.
Don’t get me wrong, I SHOULD be freaked out when she runs away from me and jumps in to the arms of the random old dude waiting in line at the post office (True Story. Just picture my brown, Afro’d self nearly snatching that man’s arms off trying to get my baby out of his arms).
But what if it isn’t a stranger? What if it’s a man I know in my mind and heart would never hurt her?
Unfortunately, that’s when the muscle memory of my own pain kicks in.
Every time my daughter hugs a man we know or is picked up by a man we know, a 1000+ thoughts run through my mind. Real talk? I’m wondering if that man is aroused by my baby girl. Whether he would consider hurting her if I wasn’t present.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all my stuff coming to bare. Memories of being inappropriately touched. Hugged just a little too long. Held just a little too close.
With every twitching fiber of my being I have to stop myself from running over and snatching her out of the arms of her favorite “uncle” or one of the harmless brothers from the church like they are that stranger at the post office.
And fear drives all of this. Fear that my daughter will experience the same heartaches, violations and pains that I did. And an even greater fear that I—all powerful, super-Mommy—could’ve done something to protect her and didn’t.
Fear is an awful foundation for parenting because the only fruit it can bear is more fear. When we parent from our own pain we transfer our own neurosis and pathologies to our children before they have a chance to deal with their own. My baby girl will have enough experiences of her own to learn from without carrying mine on her back.
Especially at two.
Now, wait. I hear your protests. Yes, as parents we need to keep our eyes open. I suppose there are some areas where parenting from my own pain is a benefit. I’m SUPER aware. Things that some other mothers might miss because it’s not on their radar, not a point of pain for them, I pay extra attention to and therefore can help my child make better decisions regarding.
But once I’ve…we’ve…done all that, we must surrender the fate of our children to God. Trusting that he will protect them. Because the greatness in them, like the greatness in Samuel, will be born out of that ultimate, and for some, mysterious trust that He knows best.
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This post is the latest in Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts’ “Faith & Motherhood” series.
Tracey Michae'l is a writer and educator based out of the Philadelphia area. She is a wife to William and a mother to a beautiful two-year old little girl. You can find her on the web at www.traceymlewis.com.