I've Got Your Back

She was taking care of me.

My Abigail, she was watching out for me. It struck me perhaps because she so adores her Daddy and in this moment stuck up for me, stuck up for Mommy and made me realize just how much it means to have this little girl, whom I have spent her whole life watching over and protecting and pouring into—now she did it for me.

It was all over a silly desk chair. And I was so grateful the Lord opened my eyes to her quiet stance because her love for me did not show up in grand gestures or loud proclamations. She was gentle, with furrowed brow, and I knew. I knew she felt indignant on my behalf.

I recently purchased a desk for my girls to put in their shared bedroom. I like to shop around second hand—maybe because I’m frugal, or maybe I fancy myself with a touch of taste and style, even if I have no strong evidence to support such claims. I like to think I can find the gem at the bottom of the stack of rubbish. The desk I found at a vintage store nearby is perfect, but it needed a chair. So I went back to looking, hunting, and I found something on craigslist. And I bought it. And it wasn’t perfect. It’s wasn’t the sturdiest chair in the world, and the dear soul who “refinished” it perhaps fancied herself with a touch of taste as well, though hers and mine were not totally the same. I still appreciated her efforts, loved the chair, if not every detail of the work, and I proudly showed it off to my girls when they got home from school.

“It needs a little polishing up, and I’ll give it another coat of paint to soften up the finish, but it fits perfectly, and looks great with the desk, and I think you girls will get a lot of use out of it.” My girls agreed. They gushed over their new furniture and how having a desk felt grown up. And when Daddy came into the room for bedtime they showed off their new treasure.

“Look what Mommy got us!”

And Daddy, well, Daddy was not quite so impressed. He saw the flaw in the finish, the oddly shaped homemade cushion, and looked at me with those eyes that plainly said “Really?” And then he spoke with his mouth and he said basically the same thing. And I couldn’t argue with any of it because all of his observations were spot on. I saw them too. But where I saw delightful potential, he saw only flaws, and I deflated. Because this was something I had done on my own. I had spent time and effort, had found something I felt happy to give to my girls, had taken pleasure in their delight with it.

So there I was flat, feeling sad and insulted and maybe like I had done something wrong because he said he just wanted something nice for the girls and I thought Will they think I don’t want them to have nice things? and then Abigail spoke. She was quiet, almost talking to herself, as she refuted her Daddy’s comments. “There’s nothing wrong with it,” she indignantly muttered under her breath. “Mommy picks nice things.”

And my heart did that hard squeeze thing that happens when our kids do the darndest and most wonderful things. I felt so, so grateful. This girl, our girl, who thinks Daddy hung the moon and all the stars around it just for her; who lights up like a firecracker every time Daddy says, “Abigail, you remind me so much of myself.” This girl, our girl, in her quiet way spoke up to Daddy—for Mommy.

I tell you what, this Mommy didn’t quite know how much she needed to hear it, but she did. She did need it, and more importantly she did hear it, and in that moment I didn’t care about the chair anymore. About whether I was a savvy bargain hunter or taken for a fool. All was right with the world because my Abigail stood up for me. My Abigail has my back.

This episode was about a week ago and tonight my Abigail and I had another moment as I tucked her into bed for the night. She and her sister had an exchange, a resolution was found, but it left Abigail stung and hurt. She wouldn’t say as much. Or maybe couldn’t. Sometimes our hurts get stuck inside. Maybe it’s because we silence the words that express them. Maybe it’s because we just can’t decide which words to choose out of so many.

I could see hurt stuck behind Abigail’s eyes tonight. So I looked at her. I looked into her eyes that spoke so plainly and I used my own words. “I see you Abigail. I see the sadness. It’s okay that it’s there, and it’s okay to express it. It’s okay to cry if you need to. I see you, and I have your back.”

And wouldn’t you know it, I think Abigail needed to hear her Mommy stick up for her. She needed to hear it, and thankfully, she did hear it. She reached out her arms and silently pulled me close to her and she held me, and I held her, and we remembered that love goes back and forth and around and around and in this family we have each others' backs, and it’s okay to cry, and sometimes we need words and sometimes the hugs speak even louder.

I know my daughter Abigail will stick up for me. I know she has my back, and I have hers. This is family. This is parenting.