I was mad as hell at God. When she refused to fall asleep I was angry with Him, wondering why He wouldn't just fix this. As usual, I asked "Why does this have to be so hard?? Why can't doing Your work at least be a little bit smoother??" By night two of the sleeplessness, I was at the point of raging against Him. Not just questioning His ways, but heaping my judgement on Him. "Why did you do this to us??" I wailed. "Is this what we get for following You? Is this how You treat Your servants? I hand You my family and You #*%& is all up??"
Oh, I was up on my horse and that little filly was very high, indeed. I thought I knew it all, knew what was best. As per usual, I was wrong.
It occurred to me, as all this was unfolding (or unraveling, as it felt at the time) that the real reason that I was feeling so overdone, so drained, so angry, so frustrated, so irritated, etc. etc. was because I didn't actually love my daughter.
There, I said it. For the longest time I swore up and down that I wouldn't feel differently about Geri. She was going to be every bit as "mine" as the others. When she had her seizure I was convinced that I felt no differently for her than the bio kids, and at that moment it was true. Truth be told, though, I do feel differently towards her. My love for her has been less patient than for the other kids. I've been less willing to overlook the stress, less comfortable in my role as her mom, less convinced of the bond. Perhaps it's because she's so much more demanding, but in my heart I know that I would have more patience for TJ and Mera if they stressed me out like Geri does. I feel less pressure with them, because the fact that I'm not trying to overcome years of neglect gives me a sense of some leeway. They're happy and well adjusted. If I put them down from time to time, they ought to survive it. I can hire a sitter. My friends can hold them. With Geri, it feels as if there's no wiggle room, no margin. If I don't respond to everything, pronto, and keep her only in my arms then she will explode. Or grow up to be on Jerry Springer.
The bio kids feel like a comfy sweater of maternal love and affection. Geri feels, often, like a pressure-cooker of responsibility and catch-up. It's hard to love in that environment. It's easy to get overwhelmed.
Yet the other night, while I was telling God how to do His job, a voice seemed to whisper "Where were you when I laid the foundation for the Earth?" Ouch. I felt immediately humbled. Oh yeah, that's right... You are God and You sort of created everything and it was Your plan that brought me every good thing I've had in my life so far. That God. The one who saved me from sin. The one who brought me out of my own hell and gave me this beautiful life that, even when upended as it is now, is still pretty awesome in the grand scheme of it all. The one who protected me during my years of stupidity, so that I never drove drunk into a post or turned up HIV positive or got myself good and murdered by some weirdo. Yeah, that God. My bad.
The more I thought about it, I was reminded of something our pastor said on Sunday. He said, in essence, "If you are doing something out of obligation, you will always do the bare minimum and probably with a bad attitude. If you do it out of love, you'll gladly go above and beyond." it hit me like a ton of bricks - what needed to change was not my daughter, but my love for my daughter.
I was infatuated with Geri. I fell in love with her, sight unseen, and built a pretty picture of her in my head. When she turned out to be different from that picture, I decided that she needed to change to keep my love. True love is built on the reality of the other person, though, and it is only increased by learning more about them. There is no desire to change someone if you truly love them, because then they would no longer be the person you love.
I had misled myself, and when the mirage began to fray around the edges I figured God was to blame.
By is grace, He has put a new prayer on my heart and lips and it has changed a lot for me. I prayed to God to make me truly love my daughter. I prayed for Him to make her as if she had come from my flesh, to make me feel as if she had grown inside me. I prayed to Him to finalize the adoption.
See, we have a legal adoption. Much like you can go to a judge and get a legal marriage. But only in God's sacrament of marriage do two become one. It's a holy miracle that a legal contract cannot replicate. It's a sacred mystery, the spiritual union of God's sacrament of marriage. (I say that, btw, having had two legal marriages and one sacrament. It's different.) In the same way, I believe that God can conduct a spiritual adoption, one that goes above and beyond the legal adoption by making her flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone, rather than just a legal charge. I took responsibility for her in the judicial system, signed all the papers and such, but I never vowed to God to care for her and love her as my own flesh and blood. I finally did that the other night, and I'm finding I look at her a little differently.
Maybe it's the Catholic upbringing in me (we love ceremonies, and if you can burn a pound and a half of incense in the process then we are ecstatic), but I'm tossing around the idea of asking our pastor to do up a small ceremony along this vein, more than a dedication and along the lines of almost a wedding. Something in which we make vows before God to raise and love this child. I'm not certain, because it feels a tad corny, but it feels appropriate in a way.
At any rate, I'm glad He's God and I'm not. I'm too damned fickle and weak. A god who is just like me would cut and run at the first sign of trouble, apply the rules inconsistently, hold grudges and carry tallies, make mistakes all the time, and generally booger the whole works up. I'd be worse off with that sort of deity.