I was washing Li'l Empress' face the other day after a particularly messy bout with a "peeder budder and jelly sammich." I took an extra breath of a moment to study her face, lingering over her deep, bottomless black-brown eyes and her sweet little rosebud lips. And the scar just under her lower lip. The scar that halts my admiration of her beauty and her sweetness every time I notice it anew. The scar that reminds me just how different parenting this child of mine really is.
You see, this particular scar doesn't fit with all the other little tiny scars that dot her face and torso. Those scars tell me the tale of a nasty case of chicken pox while she still lived in China. They remind me of my own experiences with pitiful little patches of drying and crusting skin. I have quite a few similar scars of my own. I can empathize with her misery. Those scars make me sad for her itchy, feverish days in someone else's care but they don't really evoke any other response. They feel common. Normal.
But this scar? This scar is very different to me.
In pure physical appearance, it looks different. Not much larger than the chicken pox marks, it is noticeable for the way it interrupts her lower lip just ever so slightly. It's whiter. Longer. Jagged. I can easily assign it to a nasty fall. Or maybe a tumble down the stairs. After all, I do have five kids. We've had our fair share of bumps, bruises, and split lips. And my girl is really physical. It's not a hard conclusion to reach, with very little "connecting the dots" necessary.
But underneath that simple conclusion? There is nothing simple about it. In its physical appearance lends itself to contemplation of its origins. And that, my friend, is where it feels so very important. So markedly different for me.
What happened to split that pretty little lip?
Who held you when you cried?
Did you feel reassured and comforted?
Is that the first big boo-boo you ever experienced?
Did the blood from that cut make you freak out as you do now?
Is THAT where that comes from?
And so many more... so. many. more. questions. Questions on top of questions. That lead me to more questions.
I stop that train of thought in its tracks. Screeching halt, throwing the brake till smoke billows. I can almost taste the acrid smoke as I swallow and change the course of that train that wants to barrel on ahead, down the tracks.
Because that train is going nowhere good. Nowhere because these are the questions to which I will never have any real answers. I will likely never know definitive conclusions to my mother's-heart questions. That's the hard part, isn't it? The part that is so incredibly different about parenting this girl of mine. That's one of the risks, the unknown, that we take on when we sign up for this thing called adoption.
You see, each of my older kids have scars. I know that the little orzo-shaped scar under Shaggy's eye is from the headboard that fell on his head. I remember praising the Lord for His protection that night, that the rails of the headboard missed his nose, grazing his cheekbone instead.
I can see the scars on Baby BlueEyes' lower lip and instantly remember the pain and fear we all struggled through that awful summer day. I know the heart-scars that the experience left behind.
Because no matter how old they are or how tall they tower over me, I was there from.the.very.beginning. for each of those little life experiences that scarred my precious ones. I remember it all, in my momma's heart, in many ways as if it were yesterday. A momma doesn't forget, does she?
So I stop that train. And change the tracks. Change my thoughts. I go down a different railroad all together. I turn my train of thought to gratitude.
Thanking the Lord for the care she did receive.
Praising Him for protecting her, from the worst outcomes
of things like chicken pox and falls.
Honoring the Maker who created those pretty little rosebud lips.
Glorifying The Father that knew her and held her
before I even knew her, preparing her heart for mine.
And I take an extra breath of a moment to go back to her deep and bottomless black-brown eyes. I kiss those lips, taking care to plant my kiss on the scar. And I tell her again that I love her. In my heart, I whisper that I love the scar, too.