Delaney with a fat lip, 6 months old, July 2010
Baby with a fat lip.

We mothers don’t just give birth to babies — we give birth to a fierce mothering instinct which includes the compulsion to protect our children. Tales have been told of a mother warding off a mountain lion, lifting a car off her son and dying to protect her daughter’s hiding place.

But what happens when the villain assaulting your precious child is someone a little closer to home? When it’s another of your own offspring?

Today Brioni was delighted to include Delaney in her games. She was outside on the deck, under the clothesline. And she was playing with what was around — which happened to be the plastic washing basket, So when Dell came out, Brioni put Delaney into the washing basket and pushed her around the deck. Brioni was sharing the thrill of speed and movement that she enjoys so much. Everything was hunky dory with smiles all around until the basket tipped over, spilling Dell face-first unto the hard floor.

I heard the wails and came running from the kitchen. When I picked Dell up to comfort her, I didn’t immediately see the damage. But soon the blood came pouring out of her mouth, mixed with saliva. The cries stopped with some comfort, but the blood still flowed, and I grabbed a rag to soak it up and wipe Dell’s face.

My first instinct was rage at the injustice. How dare someone hurt my precious, innocent baby girl? Shouldn’t Brioni have been more careful? (Or perhaps should I have not let Brioni play with Delaney in this manner?)

But then I felt chastened by the memory of Steven Curtis Chapman’s reaction when we drove off with his dying 5yo daughter to take her to hospital. He called out to the son who had driven over little Maria Sue — “Will Franklin, your father loves you!”

Even in in grief and rage, we need to learn not to apportion blame, but to share love in its place. So I returned to Brioni, and — still nursing a bleeding Delaney — I knelt down and cuddled Brioni and told her that I loved her.

Sure, she can learn to be more careful, but the harm wasn’t deliberate. And even if it was — the relationship with my children is paramount. I am responsible to model love, even if it is in the face of deliberate evil. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Brioni, 3yo, July 2010
And this is the culprit — a beautiful girl with pig-tails made from clothes-pegs.