I sit quietly with Rhema in a broken recliner. She used to rock in it, back and forth and back back back, until it flipped over and knocked a hole right through the wall. Now the chair leans to the side like a drunk man and stuffing spills out of it with every rock.
It’s been a hard night. Sometimes a frustrated body leads to bursts of aggression. We sit, after the storm, comfortable in our silence. Her hand guides mine over paper. She wants me to write something. I don’t know what, so I write her name because I love her special name and I’ll not ever grow tired of seeing her write her name. She scribbles over the letters.
“Now write your last name.”
This is something new she’s shown us (at home, at least). One afternoon Dana wrote “Rhema”, and then Rhema wrote her last name as if it were no big, incredible, mama’s-whooping-and-happy-dancing thing at all. Once upon a time her academic goals included learning to use a stamp with her name on it because learning to write seemed out of reach for her.
Dana saved that paper for me so I can pull it out and smile and I’ll never throw it away.
This night she understands exactly what I’m asking. She writes her last name again. No copying, no tracing. Remarkable accomplishment, years of hard work in letters on a crinkled piece of paper. All things are possible.
Then she writes M O M.
My heart stills and tears fill my eyes.
I remember the days of extra speech therapy on weekends. I’d walk into the office at the end of the session and her therapist would say, “Rhema, where’s Mom?” She’d lean close to Rhema and try to get eye contact and urge her to look in my direction. “Where’s Mom?” I’d smile and wave my hand in a goofy way. Me. Over here. I’m the mother. Rhema never looked. She failed the find-your-mother test every time. Although I’m pretty sure she chose not to acknowledge the question because she was insulted by it. Of course I know where my mother is. To this day, she does not call me by name. She can be prompted for some verbal approximation of “Mom”, but she’s never called to me.
Her teachers have been teaching her to write “Mom”, “Dad”, and “Hope” for quite a long while. In the past she’s worked on a picture ID program where she points to pictures of us when prompted. But I was not sure that she really associated those 3 letters with me.
She does. She does. Of course.
And on a hard night she knows how to bless my heart and communicate love.
For the first time in eleven years I truly feel named by my girl.
So honored, so proud, so very grateful to be M O M.
“…I’d never forget you—never.
Look, I’ve written your names on the palms of my hands.”
~Isaiah 49:16, The Message
“…I have called you by your name. You are mine.”