Poor Samantha. She was my parenting guinea pig.
For thirteen years she was an only child. When I married Brian, she became the youngest of four. Then we adopted four little ones and now she’s smack in the middle of eight.
Talk about an identity crisis. She likes to joke that she has issues from every season. Poor thing. It’s not easy controlling the world while being the center of attention and yet still working to make sure everyone gets along.
I’m sorry, babe.
Samantha saw me at my worst. I remember when I quit smoking – and then gave in to a craving. I stood outside our little duplex after she went to bed and I lit up. Moments later as I put the cigarette to my lips, I looked in the sliding glass window to see her pale face pressed up against it, tears in her eyes. I had told her I wouldn’t smoke again and her deep disappointment flushed my cheeks red.
Sam saw me at my best. I remember falling so in love with Jesus and worshipping as I worked out in my garage one night. I was singing, loud and off key, eyes closed. When I opened my eyes she was standing there, big smile on her face. She came over and leaned in to kiss my cheek. “You really love him, don’t you mom?”
“Oh baby, I do. I really do.”
Later that night she had a youth event. When she climbed back into the car, she told me how they had to write something on a piece of paper and throw it into the fire. A wish, a hope, a dream and then give it to God. I asked her what she wrote. She smiled at me. “I wrote that I want to love Jesus like my mom loves Jesus.”
I was messy with Sam. Broken and foolish some days, smart and adventurous on others – and she took every bit of the ride with me. She had a front row seat to the drama of my recovery from selfishness/stupidity/sin (a drama still unfolding). The good decisions followed by lousy ones with some random perplexing ones in between.
I let good people into her life. I let stupid people into her life. I was her hero and her heartbreak. We chair danced on eternal road trips and ate ramen noodles with gusto and delight. We slept out on the trampoline, walked to the 7-11 for ice cream cones, laughed until our bellies hurt and curled up to watch one hour of Full House nearly every night.
She spent way too much time in daycare and grew up way too soon.
But we did it together.
Sam is now 25 years old. She works full time as an escrow processor, has her own place and is proud owner of a beautiful german shepherd, Captain. She is smart, kind, strong and belly laugh funny. She is fiercely loyal and an unwavering advocate for the underdog. She loves deeply. She’ll come over these days and wrap her arms around me in the middle of our chaos. I’ll let go. “Not done, Mom.” And I’ll wrap my arms around her again and settle in to her warm embrace.
Samantha is my original God kiss. My love for her made me want to be a better human. And because of my trial and error with her, my other seven God kiss babies get a better me.
Thank you, Samantha. I love you.