Maybe that seems obvious, but this very problem did not come about loudly, but subtly and quietly. Oftentimes, especially when Ellie was between 3 and 6 months and began to show personality and preference, I found myself feeling jealous of Ellie's affection and attention. "She seems to like this person more than me," I would think, or, "Why does it seems like she's happier with (insert name) than with me?"
While I, at first, battled these thoughts with the self-provided assurance that "no one can replace Mom," I began to realize that I was merely dealing with the symptoms and not the disease by doing so. I asked myself, what will it look like when Ellie is, say, 13, and has a favorite female mentor she tends to confide in more than me? Will I feel resentful towards my own daughter? Towards the mentor? Will I make desperate attempts to be more fun, or funnier, or more interesting, in order to draw my child's attention back to me?
I didn't want to be that woman. I wanted to love Ellie, love her well. And though I began to tell myself, "I only feel this way because I love Ellie so much," it brought me to the question: What do I consider love? Vying for Ellie's attention isn't acting out of love - it's acting out of insecurity. That's not how I want to parent.
So, what do I consider "love?" Well, what does Christ's love look like? Sacrifice, patience, care, and compassion, despite whether the person receiving those things would end up following him beyond the grave or deserting him at their first glance of the horror of Calvary. Christ's love didn't look to what he'd receive from the sacrifice. It looked to how to obey the Father. So should my love for my daughter, and any future children should God grant them to me, look - never expecting or exacting a reward for my faithfulness as a mother, but simply growing more in Christlikeness, for that is what God calls me to.
As Rachel Jankovic - a Christian writer and mother I much admire - comments, writing about this lesson does not mean I have checked or could justify checking it off my sanctification list. These things I write about - these are the daily battles I fight. Chances are that if I feel like I have it down one day, I'll be struggling like crazy the next. Let us pray for one another, that we fight these battles better each time they come around by throwing ourselves upon God's grace. Amen.