I write a lot about my boys, as you may have noticed. Today, I’m thinking about my sweet daughter. I don’t write about her here on the blog very often for two main reasons:
1. Safety. When I was growing up, I hated that my brother(s) could ride their bikes around the neighborhood alone and they said I couldn’t because “You are a girl”. This, of course, infuriated me as I had no idea what that had anything to do with it. I could ride a bike just as well as they. It was only after the terrible kidnapping of Nancy Shoemaker that I begun to understand. My parents did a good job of passing that paranoia to me and now, as a mother of a beautiful daughter, I completely understand. (Thanks Mom and Dad for being so protective!) So that’s part of the reason for the limited pics of my daughter here.
2. She is old enough to read and tends to hang over my shoulder so I can’t complain about her like I do with the boys without the chance of her accidentally reading it. (I know, one day my boys will grow up and read but by then we’ll be able to laugh about these times, right?)
But this doesn’t mean I love her any less/more or that she causes me less stress than the boys. Oh wait, actually she doesn’t…or not in the same way. She caused us enough strife in the first year of her life but after that has been quite pleasant. On the contrary, my boys were both great babies but then found their mischievous/ornery side in the toddler years. I’m not sure whether to hope for a good baby with this one or not!
Our little daughter has taught us so much. She introduced us to parenthood, more like initiated us into parenthood, from the beginning, with a 36+ hour-long birth (mostly back labor, ug!) However, I will never forget the moment she finally arrived and our eyes met for the first time. I never knew such love until then. She was my first baby, a girl!–My very own daughter.
We struggled a lot in the beginning. Before she was born, I thought I knew everything. After she was born I realized I knew nothing. I didn’t know how to be a better mother my own mother, or any other mother for that matter. I certainly didn’t know just how hard and yet also how immensely profound the life and work of a mother was. My daughter, our first-born, seemed to know more than me. And when I tried to change her, she protested…rather loudly. I learned that no book or idea I read knew how/when to nurse/sleep/wake better than my own daughter (or my own natural instinct). She has taught me so much about myself.
Slowly, she melted me and I learned to let go of my ‘sophisticated’ and ‘modern’ ideas of how to mother her. Instead, my heart softened and I began simply to love her. The more I let go and just loved the ‘easier’ she became. The time when she was around 15 or so months until about maybe 5 were the “Glory Days” with her. I miss those days.
Now, we’re entering a different phase. She’s not my cute little girl anymore but she’s also not a young adolescent yet either (thank God!). My friend Michelle says ’8′ is the “perfect age”. After that, they’re just awkward and annoying. As we near the end of this “perfect year”, I’m starting to see her point.
It’s hard to believe she will grow up to be a pre-teen, teenager, and an adult woman one day. My husband tells her she’s not allowed to keep growing. While we joke about it, a big part of me does wish we could keep her young and innocent forever. Right now she is docile and helpful and full of creative energy. I hope her spark for life never leaves her, even if she does have to grow up. I’ve been enjoying her so much this summer. It’s been wonderful having her home to help me and play with her brothers. I love having time to do things together too. She’s been reading By the Shores of Silver Lake (Little House)
to me while I knit or play with her hair.
She hasn’t been ‘perfect’ by any means. And the longer she hangs out with her 2 and 5 year-old brothers the more she acts like them. She’s even had to learn her lesson about not fighting over stupid things the hard way. She and her brother collided when running for the same thing that she was a little too determined to get to first. Her knee skinned against the street and opened up a big enough wound to need stitches. It’s healing nicely but the scar will always be there to remind her. (I decided to spare you the gruesome pictures.)
While I want to cling to these days forever, a part of me does look forward to watching her grow into a young woman one day. In a way, I get to relive my childhood through her, though her life is so very different from mine. Through my experience, I hope I can teach her not only the practical skills of life but also the ones that will lead her through the awkwardness of middle school, the curious/seeking years of high school, and onward into whatever vocation and life God has in mind for her.
Perhaps a little selfishly I also hope we can maintain a good relationship. The dynamics between a mother and a daughter are drastically different from those between a mother and son. We are bound together forever by our shared femininity but because of this, we will also always be a little separated. She and I will never share the same bond as she and her beloved daddy. My sons will probably always be crazy and distracted but I know they’ll always adore me. My daughter will (hopefully) always be obedient and ‘responsible’, yet, one day she’ll me in a way they never will–all of me–especially my faults and weaknesses.
Like me, she is smart but sometimes a little too smart-y with me and already I can see she thinks she might know more than me. One day, she’ll be convinced of it and may disregard anything I say (even if it is true and logical) just because I am her mother. This may even cause her to (sob) hate me in the future. (I dread the day I hear those words come out of her mouth.)
I want her to be independent, which she definitely already is, but I also want her to still need me. I want her to discover God and the joys/sorrows of life…but I want her to come to me and unload her heart. I know I can’t be her “friend” but I do hope she will always know that I am here for her, ready to listen, ready to help in any way. But most of all, I hope she knows and remembers how much I love her. Just like I know my mother loves me. I was sad and a bit disapointed at first when we found we this baby was another boy, I was hoping for another girl. But, this has made me even more thankful for my one daughter, my special treasure.