17 Sep 2012

Daughter, you can take this one to the bank

I’m tired and she’s tired. I’ve already put her to bed more than once tonight. She’s standing in the crib we brought with us back from South Africa. She’s standing on tippy toes with soft, chubby arms stretched out to me as far as she can lean.

She’s standing with eyes trained on the door and fingertips craning toward me.

I’ve washed the dishes. I’ve stacked the dishwasher. I’ve fed the dog. The boys are playing trucks with Peter who’s finally made it home through students and assignments and rush hour. I’ve asked him for an hour to decompress and am holed up on the yellow comforter in the back bedroom with only my laptop and pair of headphones for company.

She cries softly. She knows I’m close.

And when I pull back the slatted folding door and see those arms and those tippy toes and that look on her face I want to wrap my life around her.

I will always come, baby.

She’s in my arms and slowly beginning the ritual of stroking my right arm. Her curls are warm and sweaty and that pudgy baby cheek fits just under my chin.

I will always come.

I dance with her slowly – the rock and roll of motherhood – and I know this is a promise I can stake my life on.

I will always come.

When you forget your lunch. When you are sheep number 5 in the Christmas play. When you take up the recorder and bleat all the way through the Easter service. When you get that bad hair cut. When you think you want to be a beauty queen, when you swear off fashion altogether.

I will come.

When the mean girls make you want to shrivel inside your skin. When a teacher intimidates you. When you intimidate the teachers. When you think you can sing and try out for a musical, when you get laughed at and people point fingers at your hair and your shoes and your too bony hips.

My darling, I will come.

When that boy breaks your heart and you’re stranded at a college miles away, I will come. When the internship you thought was part of your calling falls through. When a friend gets sick. When the car crashes. When you have more long distance charges than you thought possible. When you run out of gas, chocolate chip cookies and faith.

I will be there.

When you say your “I do’s”, when you you start your happily ever afters, when none of it quite feels like you thought it would. When you don’t know how to pick a mattress, when the sofa is in the wrong place, when you regret what feels like signing your life away to someone else. When you keep on keeping on. When you remember how to say sorry. When you need a safe place to say how cliche you feel all “barefoot and pregnant” I will so be there.

When the baby won’t sleep and the world’s on fire with sleep exhaustion.

Sweetheart, I will come.

When your husband’s out of work. When you’re down to one car and have moved in with his in-laws. When your job threatens to break your heart. When toddlers make you question your sanity. When you realize that you’ve made the worst mistake a woman can make. When you’ve run out of tears and still the tears keeping coming.

I will come.

When you move and move and relocate again. When you pack boxes and dreams and hope. When your life is a world of duct tape and questions. I will still come.

And when your home is warm and your heart is full. When you’re at peace. When you need someone to share the joy, to watch the kids, to admire the dimples. When you want to remember that old recipe for melktert, when you still can’t pick a sofa, when you wish you’d never said yes to the dog.

When you don’t know where you’re going. When you’re the most sure of yourself you’ve ever been. When you’re holding onto faith with just your fingernails. When you’re singing, “Jesus loves me this I know” and you mean it with every tiny, beautiful, miraculous part of your DNA –

Zoe, always I will come.

I will rock and roll you with my love and the promise that I will help you get back on your feet. I will hold your hand. I will rejoice. I will babysit. I will pass the tissues. I will wash the dishes.

I will come.



And the day after. And after.

And then some.


{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    This turned me into sniffling mess. Sometimes its hard to realize that there is a huge future in parenting when you are in the midst of it. The choices you make to come or not to come really affect your kids.

  2. 2

    This reminds me of a song I often sing to my son and have since he was born–Steven Curtis Chapman’s, “I will be here.” The song was intended for Mary Beth in response to his own parents’ divorce. My best friend sang it at our wedding. Yet, it also speaks to me of a parent’s love for a child. Because, ultimately, it reminds me that He never leaves us and He is who unites us–spouses and children.

  3. 3

    I don’t comment much. I lurch. But oh, this just made my heart soar. I have a daughter, you see.

  4. 6

    beautiful. and perfect for a monday morning….

  5. 7

    Lisa-Jo! Once again I come undone over your blog! My husband thinks I’m having an emotional melt-down with the amount of sobbing I do over your blogs…..then I just say, no just reading Lisa-Jo’s blog again!

    Thanks for turning the everyday into poetry!

  6. 8

    Yes, this. Just beautiful. “The rock and roll of motherhood…..”

  7. 9

    Such a nice post!!!

  8. 10

    A beautiful post, Lisa-Jo. This reminds me so strongly of my own mother, it made me a bit weepy this morning. Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us. I want to be this for my own tinies.

    • 11

      Me too, Sarah. Me too. I’m so sad for my mom that she missed out on so much of it. And so grateful to the God who is redeeming my story through my Zoe – my gift of life and life and so much wonderful Monday morning life! :) xoxo

  9. 12

    Oh Lisa-Jo, that was just beautiful!!! what a treasure you both have in each other!

  10. 13

    wiping my tears away once again, beautiful post babe. Just loved it, a mother’s love knows no boundaries

  11. 14

    Oh, how gorgeous. This reminded me of me, and of my daughter, and this big beautiful life, all caught up in the smallest moments.

  12. 15

    I am a fairly new reader. And I rarely comment on blogs. But I had to today.

    I bawled my way through this one. As I read I thought of my own mama and I thought of my daughter. But mostly, I thought about how true this is of the character of God. As I read, I feel like his words spoke to my heart saying “I will come. I will be there.”

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  13. 18

    Oh man. Tears rolling this morning. We just moved my two-year old baby into the big girl bed this weekend. I love this!

  14. 19

    You are a flame to a candle in a dark room!
    Be blessed with every good thing.

  15. 20

    What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing. Makes me miss my mom.

  16. 21

    I don’t usually cry over blog posts at 6am, but this? This is special. And I sobbed over my milk and waffles this morning.

    When you’ve lost your mom and God gives you a baby girl… there is no greater gift. I am head over heels in love with my daughter. Thank you for this.

  17. 24

    She is so blessed to have you, ya know. My mother and I broke up 14 years ago, I don’t take it for granted. I feel the same about my kids. I will always come for them.

    • 25

      I notice you said you and your mother ‘broke up’. Now, that is a phrase that covers a multitude of eventualities! I’m not going to go into the details, but my parents and I ‘broke up’ 15yrs ago. I think I’ll borrow that – it’s hard to find a ‘shorthand’ that describes what happened in my life. Thank you!
      Oh, and I also have kids… and I could hear the echoes of conversations I’ve had with them. Talking about the situations that might happen in their lives and saying over and over again how I’ll always help them, and always love them, and working out the arrangements by which we’ll still keep in close touch when they’re grown-up (my oldest is not quite 9, lol!), all the while feeling the pain of knowing that my parents didn’t/couldn’t do that for me.
      I’m guessing you’ll know about those conversations too…

  18. 26

    Simply lovely- and so true for those of us just wanting two minutes of quiet- two minutes to finish a thought, a sentence, a photo edit, a chapter…but can’t. And a reminder of why it is ok that we can’t. Thank you dear heart. Lovely.

  19. 27

    I pray this for my children (boys and a girl…or rather gentlemen and a lady). …especially as my daughter and her husband are at the beginning of her pregnancy.

    I will come to you my dears.

  20. 28

    You just described my mom. <3

  21. 29

    She is darling and has a darling mom to love and train her. ~Blessings

  22. 30

    Just beautiful. Even when we don’t feel like coming. . . again. . .we will. Because we HAVE to. In the depths of our heart we can’t NOT come when they need us. And when we choose to, in the midst of our exhaustion, the joy of being there and caring and nurturing carries us and even allows us to soar through motherhood. Thank you Lisa Jo. This is beautiful.

  23. 31

    Yes ~ this is my mantra, too. My girl can count on her mama to be there.

    Thanks, LJ, for always showing what loving daughters well looks like. I love you!

  24. 32
    Robin Troxell says:

    I’m a sniffly mess at work now, thanks :-)

  25. 33

    Lovely. This one will go into my “blogs to keep” folder. I don’t have children, but I am a daughter.

  26. 34

    Yoi have me in tears and “amens” :) thank you

  27. 35

    I love your blog………..you make me proud to be a mama and allow me to remember the importance of being a mama. I recently wrote two posts about daughters and beauty and their true Prince……..they made me think of you and your words and ideas. If you have time………and it’s more than ok if you don’t :) Just wanted to let you know that you inspire me as a writer and a mother.



  28. 36

    Perfect as we send our only child ( a daughter) off to college this week. We hope, we pray, we believe that she knows that we will always come.

  29. 37

    And I’m a tear-stained mess!

    Needed a good cry.

    Thank you for sharing!

  30. 38

    Wiping my eyes and blowing my nose now…

  31. 39

    Yes – and it grows in her heart and blossoms into something that connects you forever.

  32. 40

    Beautiful. OH So beautiful. Spoke to my mama heart… You have that way…I love this!

  33. 41

    My four year old daughter doesn’t usually take naps anymore. However, today was definitely a nap day. Fits thrown at preschool and at home. When I went to put her down for a nap, she was not having any of it. Eventually I left her in there to fuss herself to sleep as I often have to do. She settled down for a little while but then began to cry that she didn’t want to be alone in her room. I was in the living room catching up on my blogs and I had just gotten to yours. I read the words on the page and they were a balm to my frazzled soul. As soon as I finished reading, I walked into her room and sat down to rock her for a bit. We agreed to make a treat for Daddy when she woke up. Fifteen minutes later, she is fast asleep. You truly have a gift from God. Thank you for sharing your words with others so we might experience your gift as well!

  34. 42

    SO beautiful. It is a wonderful promise.
    My own mother never said that and she never came either.
    You are blessed to be able to change the message for your daughter. take care

  35. 43

    This is lovely, Lisa-Jo. So many layers of coming and coming and coming. And that is so much of what being a loving mother is about.

    But it is also so sadly true, that there will be those times when your coming won’t be quite enough – and that’s a hard lesson for a mother to learn. But an important one, too. Because not one of us can be the answer to our kids’ every need. Nope. We cannot. We can love them like crazy, sacrifice sleep and sanity in the process, offer to help carry the load wherever and whenever
    possible – but trust me, there are some things you won’t be able to do for your girl (or your boys) that you so, SO wish you could.
    You cannot take away the sting of guilt over terrible choices – but you can offer love and acceptance anyhow, assurance that s/he is forgiven and loved, no matter what;
    you cannot step into the hole created when others are mean and she is left without a friend – but you can offer hugs, a listening ear and space to grieve (and pray with them every night for ONE, just one believing friend);
    you cannot intervene when her marriage gets dicey, when she wonders if she can make it through – but you can assure her of your love and commitment, no matter what decision she comes to (and pray like crazy for wisdom, grace, and good friends to come alongside);
    you cannot spare her the agonizing pain of watching someone she loves walk through a long, painful, confusing, exhausting dying process – but you can take the kids to give her some relief, give her money to tide her over when a single income just doesn’t cut it anymore, offer to pay for counseling for the kids in the midst of their own pain and loss.

    When our babies are hurting – we hurt. And so we come, and we do what we can. My mom used to have a favorite poem that began with the line, “I stand with the bandages and ointments ready…” One of the best single sentences about good parenting ever written. I found it on Google – or at least I think this is it – and it was written by Alan Paton – your fellow countryman. It’s in a great old book edited by Robert Raines called “Creative Brooding.” If you ever see that in a used bookstore, it’s a keeper. You can read part of it at this blog: http://justthinking.typepad.com/nordenson/2005/07/letting_go.html

    Thanks so much for your continuing call to commitment to the beauties and the difficulties of family life. You are such a gift!

    • 44

      Yes, wise words here. I know this. But I imagine it will feel much different to live it.

      • 45

        You’ll live it well, Lisa-Jo. It just won’t be particularly fun sometimes. You’re sinking deep roots into these babes of yours and those roots will bear fruit in ways that will astound you and send you to your knees in gratitude to God for faithfulness across time and generations. Parenting is the best and also at times, the most horrific of all jobs/privileges/ responsibilities/roles. As you are discovering, there are layers of love and connection that you simply cannot understand or explain until it happens to you. It’s a miracle of grace. And watching that miracle blossom in you this past 18 months or so has been a gift to all of us. Something shifted in you when Zoe was born, something that was already in process with the boys but took such beautiful shape when she got here. You write about that work so, so well. SO well. Thank you.

  36. 46

    I cried all the way through this beautiful post. Thank you!

  37. 47

    This is so beautiful. It makes me yearn for my mom. She always tried to be there when I called. She didn’t always have the answers but she’d hug me close, dry my tears and tell me that God will always be there. Thanks for sharing.

  38. 48

    I just love your writing about motherhood. touches my weary soul. thank you.

  39. 49

    Absolutely beautiful. I’m in the ‘when a boy breaks your heart’ paragraph stage of parenting…it’s one of the most challenging but looking at grown up daughters I realize that as they’ve grown my joy in being a mother has grown too. When our babies are small we think we cannot possibly love them any more than we do in that moment. We can.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  40. 50

    This is beautiful. I don’t have any daughters yet but it reminded me of my mom. She’s always there for us!

  41. 51

    Ok. I probably shouldn’t have read this on my oldest daughter’s ninth birthday. But it is so true. I will always be there for my girls, as my mom is there for me, as my grandma is there for my mom.

  42. 52

    Crying as I type…how beautiful this is…I have 4 and a 1/2 year old twins..a boy and a girl..thank you for sharing!

  43. 53

    Oh, my goodness, I’m stopping by from Joyce at This Side of the Pond. What a heart wrenching entry that all Mothers can so relate to. My daughter is now 33 but I still look at her as though she were a babe in arms. What a gift you have of writing. Blessings abundant!

  44. 54

    Joyce from “The Other Side of the Pond” told us about this post. So glad I checked it out. So very beautiful. My “baby” just turned 18. They grow up so fast, but yes, I will always come for her too.

  45. 55

    So touching…so sweet…so true…so the message I want for all my children :). Thank you.

  46. 56

    Exactly how I feel about my daughter, and I’m so thankful for her. However, I have tears over the fact that my mom and I haven’t spoken in years due to a falling out with my dad. She promised it wouldn’t prevent her from visiting me, but it has. And I have wanted to protect my daughter from experiencing the same anguish I’ve experienced in dealing with my dad for so long. So this way has seemed best. But, lately my heart has been hurting over the loss of my mom.

  47. 57


  48. 58

    I hope you get the chance. I hope she recognizes it for what it is – your love. Missing my mama in so many ways for that very reason, that she would always come. Now that she is gone I have to go on with only those moments stored up in my heart, but praise the Lord for those moments. That always on my side, you can do no wrong mama. I don’t know how I would have done anything with out that love, my only regret is that I wish I could have recognized it sooner. Blessings to you in your daughter dance.

  49. 59

    This made me cry. Tears of sorrow for the lack of this in my relationship with my mom, and the hope that I can love my girls with this love… and the fear that because I don’t know what it is to be loved like this by a mom, that I will not be able to love my own girls like this. It’s hard to trust God that I can ever be what I have never had. I know He has loved me this way, but I have needed a woman – a mom – to love me like this since I can remember. Thank you for sharing how much you love and are dedicated to your little girl. It stirs me up, but in a good way – a way that breaks down the walls I put up because of being afraid.

    • 60

      *hugs gently*
      I cried because I’ve never known what it’s like to receive this kind of love from my mother, and that my own fears of messing up potential kids have stopped me from having children of my own.
      Your kids will be remarkably lucky to have love and support from you in ways they haven’t begun to imagine yet–no need to fear.

  50. 61

    You just made our world brighter, better and more intense. Thank you so much for showing the beautiful side of parenting.

  51. 62

    I hope nobody comes around the corner and sees me crying at my desk at work. :)

  52. 63

    I have read three of your posts and cried through each one. You write what I feel but somehow lack the skills to form into sentences and full paragraphs – into the story of our life. Thank you for inspiring me to try.

  53. 64

    By far one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. You have a gift with words.

  54. 65

    This is absolutely beautiful! My husband and I had our first baby, a baby girl, in July, so this hits home for us. Thank you!

  55. 66

    As I sit here, sobbing at my desk with a mouthful of Christmas cookies and tea and my first little baby swirling in my tummy, less than a month away from making his or her entrance into the big scary world, I am so so thankful for the relationship I have with my mother. Your post is so dead on, it’s scary! When I was little, much of my mother’s “being there” was hidden from my sight – standing up for me to my teachers and the school nurse when I had migraines but they just thought I didn’t want to be there. Her going to college during the day and waitressing at night all the while juggling every household chore and all of the financial responsibilities (as my dad was a very heavy alcoholic when I was a child). She lived basically in poverty but never took a handout from anyone to teach us the value of hard work and pride in living within your means. That meant one pair of white scrubs for her nursing clinicals. WHITE. They had to be washed every night. We didn’t have a dryer so they had to be hung over our radiator. I can’t even imagine the sacrifices she made while we were young. It becomes much clearer as I think back to my teenage years: I remember her consoling me when I tried out for “Poms” the dance group in high school…oh, so not coordinated…she knew but didn’t discourage my trying out. My first broken heart, when I fell into her bed first thing the next morning, unable to comprehend how someone could say he loved me one minute and then dump me for some girl he barely knew the next…she understood and her heart literally broke with mine. She was so proud when I graduated from law school. She always listens when I complain about the bad decisions I’ve made with regard to my career – she does not judge. She is quick to loan me any amount of money I need and never, ever asks to be repaid before I am ready. She listens to me complain about the common issues of marriage but always reminds me that my husband is a good, hardworking man. (I think this is very important – her reminders put everything in perspective.) She gave me the very best and most amazing baby shower a girl could ask for and now, she will be there when the newest family member enters the world. I am the luckiest woman in the world. I just hope I can give my baby half of the support, love and respect my mother has given me over the years.

    • 67

      Oh good golly Stacey, and now you have me all choked up reading this. Dang, motherhood IS a super power! Blessings on you and your new baby – enjoy the ride, it’s wild and wonderful and full of so much wonder!

  56. 68

    I am in tears here – powerful, now-I-get-it tears. It has been a rough fall, and I’m trying to be strong for my daughter and all the while my mother keeps being this amazing angel who will listen, without judging, with love and she keeps saying “I will always be there” and now I get it, exactly how she is feeling is the same way I am feeling for my sweet seven year old girl. I get it now. Thank you.

  57. 69

    So incredibly beautiful. Thank you for pouring your heart out and letting us read your sweet letter to your precious daughter. LOVED this post. You have a new follower. :)

  58. 70

    Exactly! Yesterday afternoon, my 21yo daughter had to make the decision to put her beloved horse, Charlie, down. She could have had it taken care of while she was far away, but she couldn’t bear for him to be alone, so she stayed. I knew there were images I didn’t want in my head, but I couldn’t bear for my child to have them in HER head alone, so I showed up and stayed. My mom, her heart aching for her daughter and granddaughter, showed up, too, and I swear, if my own grandmother and HER mom had been alive and remotely able to get there, they would have shown up, too. Sometimes, showing up is all we can do, so showing up is what we do.

  59. 71
    Melissa willis says:

    Love this even through the tears of truth ;)

  60. 72

    that was sooooooooooooooooooooooo wonderful. I am still coming. I will always come
    because my mother always came. Though she is gone from us, she still lives.

  61. 73

    this is a piece of art that I needed to read today. I try to balance between creating an entitled self centered being and giving my all so they know I will always be there for them. I think I tend to be too hard on them and needed to read this.

  62. 74

    You are killing me here! I am trying to eat my lunch at my desk and now trying not to cry. And my five year old daughter, my beautiful, cheerful, sweet, cuddler’s name is Zoë. Thank you.

  63. 75

    I asked my husband if he had read it while I had it up on the screen. And his first comment was, “What is the worst mistake a women can make?” I told him I wondered it too.

    Your thoughts?

  64. 76

    I’m so lucky to have a mom like this, too, and I sure hope someday my own daughter will know I felt this same way about her.

  65. 77

    This brought me to tears! I am a new mother with a daughter and this is exactly how I feel about her. Words can’t even express the love I have for my daughter and I will always be there for her forever, and that’s a promise. And my mother has been exactly all these things to me.

  66. 79

    My world? Literally on fire with sleep exhaustion right now. My mama is an ocean away from where we’re living on board a hospital ship off the coast of Guinea, and someone sent me a link to this post. I started to read, nodding and agreeing. Until.

    “Zoe, I will always come.”

    At which point, I dissolved into hot, ugly tears. Because mine is Zoe, too, and I’m so tired and at the end of my rope that I’ve been only half-jokingly threatening to throw her overboard. This is what I needed to read today, what I’ll probably need to read every day for the next long while.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, she’s awake. Again. And I need to go to her.

  67. 80

    This is just lovely. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I often struggle with scooping up my daughter too often, but that crib at night is the one time I rush up the stairs to scoop her up without hesitation. That sweet little cheek on mine and her little hand patting my shoulderas I sway is priceless and cherished (no matter the time or the sleep depravation level).

  68. 81

    tears. thanks for this. i needed it tonight.

  69. 82

    This is an absolutely stunning post. I am so blessed to say that this is the type of Mom I have. And I am hopeful that this is the type of mom I will be. I so, so want to be this type of mother. Thank you for the inspiration.

  70. 83


    I’d recommend the Johnson’s “Baby Relief Kit”. There’s actually a special promotion where you can get it sent to you completely for free if you go to urlcheck.us/babykit

  71. 84

    Reading this post made me melt. I am 5.5 months pregnant and just found out I am having a little girl. I sit here at work, in a small office with soft lighting and cry. I am crying in anticipation, love and worry. I am crying knowing the feelings that will come in the months and years to come, and I thank you for reminding me how lucky I am.

    Thank you.

  72. 85

    This is a beautiful beautiful post. I found it in the OHbaby magazine and cried my eyes out, as it is exactly who my Mum is. She has always been there.
    Shortly after reading it I was baking a cake for my sisters birthday, went to put it in the oven but the oven wasn’t working so first thing I do is pack up my gorgeous 1 year old son and head around to her place.

    I hope that I can be that Mum to my son.

  73. 86

    i just came across this as i was searching “new mom blog” on the web tonight. reading this, i ended up bawling my eyes out. so beautiful. thank you.

  74. 87

    Wow… These incredible words that fully explain the overwhelming, and suffocatingly sweet feelings that only a mama can experience. My husband and I were blessed with our first child, a little girl, this year on March the 24th, a little after 10pm, New Zealand time… I anticipated deep feelings, but not to the extent that my heart could break with the love I feel for my darling girl.
    Thank you so much for this beautiful post! <3 I will hold my daughter forever. In my arms, for now but forever in my heart, as she grows and takes on this life that God has planned for her. Gosh, I can barely express how precious she is to me.


  1. of late » says:

    […] Read it and weep. […]

  2. […] will earthquake wide open when you hurt. And I will always come when you […]

  3. […] Stumbled upon this tonight and had to post it here. Here is a trackback to the original link where it was so beautifully written: http://lisajobaker.com/2012/09/a-mothers-promise/ […]

  4. […] So on this blog I do my best not to dress up motherhood. I try to tell it straight. Like how my daughter has cracked my heart right open. Or how every tired mom might need to recite this reminder before breakfast. And that you’re […]

  5. […] tiny human, my gorgeous darling, my little one – you are a girl. You are our first girl and I will never stop celebrating it. You are a gorgeous, dimpled, delicious, just-two-year-old […]

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