Hold on Tight


Mommy and Daughter, copyright 2016 Nicole Johnson. All rights reserved.

I was at our local Hallmark for the second time in the course of an hour. The first time was a total bust and, truth be told, I was a little embarrassed to head back in for round two. Five minutes was all I had needed. It became abundantly clear within the first ten seconds however, that my overtired, strong-willed, frisky little ‘love’ wasn’t up for the seemingly insurmountable challenge of standing still beside me for even ONE second. Opening the door to the store was literally like opening the gate to a bull run. My four-year old daughter was the bull and I was the panicky rider trying desperately to hold on to my child who just wanted to run free.

The tighter I held, the stronger she kicked. The more I begged, the more she dug her heels in and refused to peel herself off the floor where she had assumed her classic wet-noodle form, spreading across the rug like a free-flowing puddle. There were no rodeo clowns to help distract my little bull or disperse the attention of the two salesladies I could feel staring me down. I held on for as long as I could and then scooped my child off the floor and carried her football style out the door–but not before she had the chance to swing her leg out from my arms and give the door a good kick as we made our hasty exit.

I gave her a good lecture as I buckled her into her car seat. She knew Mommy was upset and pretended to care for a whole thirty seconds before she switched gears and decided to put in her lunch order as we began the drive home.

“Cheese? Chips! Mama, mama, cheese!”

Seriously? How can you even think I’m going to feed you ever again after what you just pulled in that store? I was fuming. How does she not understand her behavior is totally unacceptable? How can she even think about food when she should be fashioning her most sincere apology? My plight in this world grew with each self-centered thought and then ever-so-slowly I began to take a look at my own role in the fiasco and realized I may have pushed it in thinking she would be able to handle yet another stop after our already busy morning and her early rising. I was softening to the idea of giving her a piece of cheese when we got home, but the chips were a reward I remained unwilling to offer.

Much to my relief and to my daughter’s pure delight, our rodeo clown met us at the door and my stress immediately began its descent to a manageable level. One look at my face was all my son needed to understand I had reached my limit. He scooped his little buddy up and off they went to play while I took a much-needed breather. I am reminded each time my daughter’s heroes (aka her brothers) come to my rescue that I was never meant to run this rodeo on my own. God designed the perfect team and it never fails that when one of us gets bucked off, another is waiting at the gate.

After feeding my daughter lunch, which did amount to more than just a piece of cheese, (my generous spirit surprises even myself) I left her in the care of her brother and made my second trip to the store. Ironically enough, the one item I was in search of was an over-the-shoulder bag just big enough for my keys and phone that would allow me two open hands to hang tight to my little one when we were out. I didn’t find the bag, but, as I perused the store, still decompressing from the mornings events, I happened by a small wooden plaque that read, “I prayed for this child.” And there was God’s ever-so-gentle reminder of the incredible gift wrapped in this nutty little package.

Those five simple words brought my mind from reliving her multiple temper tantrums that morning to the months I spent praying my heart out for her arrival. As with my boys, I loved her long before I met  her and remember every last detail of the first time I got to hold her in my arms. I have come to understand I need to rejoice in each and every trait that makes my daughter who she is. While it may be hard to celebrate her strong will (like, iron-strong) I know that it is not only what she needs to fulfill God’s will for her, but also part of what will make me whole, a crucial piece to the puzzle of just who God created me to be. If I have any hope of doing this parenting thing right, I feel like my growth should mirror the growth of my children. I have just as much to learn from each of them as I have to teach them.

Thank you, baby girl:

  • for teaching me what true perseverance looks like
  • for proving that you can in fact smile for 95% of the day without your face freezing that way
  • for refining my patience and for making it simply impossible to stay angry with you
  • for accepting my failures and loving me through it
  • for your intoxicating giggle
  • for opening your heart and showing me a little piece of God every time I look at you

In the end, you can kick and run all you want, little lady, but this mama’s holding on tight.


Copyright 2016 Nicole Johnson


About Author

Nicole and her husband of twenty years have been blessed with three children. Introduced to the world of early intervention with the adoption of their daughter who has Down Syndrome, Nicole now works part time raising funds and marketing the mission of the local non-profit that provides early therapies for children diagnosed with developmental delays. She also serves with her husband on the board for the New England chapter of Bethany Christian Services, the national adoption agency that brought their daughter home eight years ago now. Nicole's family works to advocate for life, adoption and embracing children with special needs. Read more of Nicole’s story and her understanding of faith by visiting her blog, Joy in the Journey, at www.nicolejenniferjohnson.com.

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