I sat on the couch, her head nestled in my lap, her little body finally still after a non-stop day. I stroked her face--an echo of her sister Amy's-- and thought, "I want to do right by her."
And then I wondered What do I mean by that?
With three older children, I know from experience that I won't do it all right with Christa. Even with my 22 years of mothering experience, I'll make mistakes with her. I'll raise my voice when I shouldn't. I'll not give her my undivided attention and miss out on something that is important to her. I'll jump to wrong conclusions. And I know some days it will seem like I can't do anything right as a mom.
What I want to do is to understand Christa for who she is and then nurture her accordingly. Chuck Swindoll, one of my favorite authors, once said that before we can rightly discipline our children, we must discover who they are--their strengths, their weaknesses, their temperaments. I've read a lot of parenting books and that is one of the few pieces of advice that stuck with me.
Even at four-years-old, Christa has her own personality. She loves to dance. She hates ants. She loves me to tell her pretend stories. She hates naps. She loves other children--each one is her best friend.
I know it takes time and effort to get to know my child. Time and effort. Getting to know Christa has to be a priority in my life. Sometimes it is too easy to just set my own expectations on her, with no consideration of who she is.
Yes, I want to do right by Christa. And to do so, I need to understand who she is. Even now--especially now--I need to build a relationship with her. Because if we don't have a relationship now, it will be near impossible to have a relationship when she is older.