It’s been five years since we first met. It was such a long and exhausting labor. 50 hours of waiting and praying and working. And then you were here. We had a few name options, but in seconds of you being in my arms and realizing I had a daughter, we knew you were Lucy Pearl.
You made me a mother. But it really took that first year. You see, labor, delivery, breastfeeding, hormones, it was all harder than I expected. I didn’t quite know what to do with this foggy brain, aching body and enormous, consuming love.
Within a few months we had worked out our breastfeeding woes and had found a beautiful rhythm that brought rest for all of us. But inside my heart, things were just beginning to transform.
Months after birthing you, I was still left feeling raw and vulnerable and trying to reconcile who I was with this new title and identity I now carried. But the Lord is so good. He stayed by my side, held my heart, wandered through the house with me, sat in the backyard with me, just gently trying to remind me that my identity was still that I am His. The sacrificing, the selflessness, the wisdom, the patience, that this mother thing requires…He will take care of that. To be the best mother, I just need to be me. A me that is listening to the One who created me.
In my 5 years of motherhood, it has looked like swerving and then coming back to that truth over and over again. It is that truth that allows me to look ahead at the future with a sweet anticipation and not an anxious worry. It is that truth that lets me look back at your first five years with a peace and a fondness and a knowing that I was fully there, I gave you my truest self, mistakes and all, and I let the Creator’s voice be the loudest.
Lucy, this little start of our journey together has been the richest, most life changing experience and I am so grateful to be on it with you.
Your name means light, and it could not be more appropriate. Your days are spent blazing ahead, leaving a trail of light. You are curious to know everything and you are anxious to learn how to do everything. So often I’m thinking to myself, ‘no, no, she’s not ready for that.’ But I step back out of your way, and with a quiet confidence and a laughing smile, you do it. Teaching you at home has been a gift and I am looking forward to starting kindergarten with you and continuing to just follow your lead.
And my dear, you are such a brave little one. In the last year and half you have been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis in your left knee, celiac disease, and early signs of uveitis. Even writing it out, it seems like a lot. And it certainly brings back memories of challenging times and the terrible feelings of not knowing what was going on in your little body. But Lucy, you handled it all with such a positive attitude and grace that is well beyond your years. Long drives back and forth from Atlanta, needles, procedures, pain and discomfort, the sudden inability to partake in certain foods that kids around you were eating…we rarely heard you complain and you weren’t going to let anything keep you down. Every doctor you met with immediately fell in love with you and were equally impressed with your calm, steady, fearlessness.
At one appointment, you set there calmly as they stuck a long needle into your knee to drain the fluid and then stuck another needle in your knee for the steroid shot. After the doctor was finished she asked you how in the world were you so brave. Your simple and sure response was, ‘because God is with me.’ You weren’t trying to being cute or to say the right thing. You just meant it, you believed it.
That is what I want for you. I want that truth to burn so true inside that you never have to doubt it for a second. Because I will not be the one to be right beside you forever and ever. I will not be able to ease every hurt and struggle you ever have to face. But He will.
The third and latest diagnoses we received was the uveitis, swelling in the eye. There wasn’t much there, but enough to plant that tiny seed of doubt and fear. When I received the news, you were still driving home with your dad from Atlanta. I sat in the living room while Lulah played and Ida slept in my arms. My mind started going down the road of imagining the worst and wondering what would your future look like if those things happened. My chest started aching and my eyes burning with tears. And then like a sigh of relief, I felt the comfort of the Lord as if actual arms were wrapped around me. He whispered to my heart, I am the one that brings fullness to life and full her life will be.
Lucy, I believe him with all my heart. You are filled with light and strength and bravery and kindness. As a daughter, as a sister, you are pure delight and I could not be more proud of who you are. Our lives are better because of you.
Lucy Pearl McDowell, here’s to a joyous celebration of your first five years!