I’m going to spend a little bit of time focusing solely on my daughter Layla.
There is not another soul I have met whom I feel this kind of love for; come hell or high water, I would literally spare my life to keep my child safe, and I will do anything so that she knows she is truly loved.
Parenting brings with it unique challenges that test my patience, test my sanity, and test my determination to do what is “right”, even when modern American society screams something else entirely. I refuse to let my daughter’s attitude dictate my life, and I refuse to give in to her budding will to stop a tantrum, or to please her in place of discipline. I know a child is best suited to understand real love in the context of well-intentioned, God-fearing boundaries. She will grow up knowing she cannot walk all over her mother, and that she is not born into a world of entitlement simply because this world we live in offers it so casually, but that she will learn to enjoy working for what she desires, and foster an understanding that life is not handed to her – she will know what it means to earn what she is given. I pray I do this “right” so that she appreciates the simple things and is not driven by possessions, money, and the passing gratification of the moment.
Right now, my daughter is in all ways a toddler in her silliness and her coordination, but more than the normal, obvious markers of a child her age, she has so much more to boast about….
She is curious to the point where most conversations consist of a thousand times the word, “Why?” Her growing mind seeks to understand the finite details of the world in which she dwells, and I so enjoy a good, rousing game of ask and receive an answer; I will never tire of explaining a reason behind every single one of her little “why’s”. She is intelligent, and far exceeding the years of her age grasps concepts, ideas, and even abstract thinking to a degree that I am nearly convinced my daughter is “gifted.” To the point where people whom have long since had their own children, even grandchildren in some cases, marvel at Layla’s articulation, inquisitiveness, and understanding of communication. People ask me all the time, “how old is your daughter?” And more often than not, I receive a shaking head with a crooked smile as if they cannot believe this girl is only two. She can verbalize clearly, and she streams together sentences that I am sure even a child twice her age has not mastered.
Surely, other mothers are proud of their children. I am not the first nor will I be the last to exclaim to the heavens that my child is special. There is something unique about her, though… Something intrinsically marvelous… That I cannot help but to assume her shining radiance is not shared amongst her peers but was saved for a special work in the one named Layla.
Because of this, recognized so abundantly at such an early age, I have tremendous hope for my little girl as she grows and matures into whomever she will become.
Because of my love, unconditional and especially reverent, I will expect great things for her, but I will love and support her in whatever endeavors she seeks to accomplish, both big and small. I will be her biggest advocate, and I will be her biggest fan, whether she is an astronaut or a dancer, a poet or merely a fanciful dreamer like her mother.
The world around us is changing at a rate that astounds me, and the roles of women are constantly shifting in our society. I pray as she finds herself in this fast-paced, cruel world, she never loses sight of who she is in the eyes of her mother. Because whom I see now, and as she grows how I see her become the woman God has planned, I will never doubt that my daughter was picked for greatness. No matter what persecution she will face, and no matter how many times she stumbles, I will never let her forget how beautiful she is to me.
Tonight, she’s a “wee girl”, wearing size 6 shoes. She is potty trained with occasional accidents. She is so silly, flexing her “muscles”, and dancing to whatever music we decide to play. She is “Hope my wings” and Dora reruns. She is brave – jumping off the hot tub into our pool and holding her breath to swim to whomever is there to receive her in the “cowld water”. She has tanned, olive skin that she got from her father, and bright blue eyes that trust and accept a world she is only just beginning to understand. She is a quietly whispered, “I love you” in the middle of the night. She is “Pat me just a little while” when she doesn’t want me to leave at bed time. She is a cuddle in the morning and a loud, “I have to go pee-pee, Mama… NOW!” When I am still groggy at 7:30am. She is Montessori school singing, “Friends, friends, 1, 2, 3, all my friends are here today” and the paintings, art work, and handprints taped to her bedroom door lovely crafted by the hands of a future Van Gogh. She is a kiss to a manna’s forehead, pink and blue bath foam soap, cold milk poured into her “crap and crunch”, and a delighted smile because I gave her a sucker. She is the tight grasp around my neck after a stay with bahbah, and the stories of her visit the whole way home. She is Hajj’s “belching buddy” and his favorite reason to play the farting noises on the iPhone. She is almost a big sister…
She is my baby girl who is about to be three years old in a few months, and she is the love of my life.
I pray many things each day. I pray for my family back in Washington and the separate journeys we all take in our lives apart from each other; my siblings, my daddy, my Cathiest of all Cathys. I pray for Teta and Giddo and Bahbah because these are my daughter’s biggest fans besides her mommy and daddy in the Sterling home. I pray for my husband’s family and my friends, in Texas and back home. I pray for my marriage, and for the safety and happiness of my husband as he ventures out to work each day. I pray we endure no matter what this life throws our way.
Somewhere in there I pray for my own heart to persist, to live another day so I can assume and accept the privilege to be in the lives of those I love so dearly.
But, most of these, most of all, I pray for my little girl. Correction, “My Big Girl”. My Layla Samaya Roberta. My first child. My purest love. I pray she never forgets what she is worth. I pray she never abandons the Creator who made her. And I pray she never doubts the one who carried her before she took her first breathe: That my love will move mountains, and my heart will find no greater happiness in this life than the moment I became a mother for the first time. It only increases exponentially each day I am blessed with another day to be her Mama.
My Layla baby, my girl…
“So let my love give you roots and help you find your wings.”