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I was on Facebook yesterday and saw a friend’s post of her baby girl’s nursery, her first baby, who is due any day now.  It took me back to early June, 9 years ago, when I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first baby girl.

This baby turns 9 today.

I read this post titled, To My Daughter, At Halftime, not too long ago and it hit me right in the heart because I could relate so much. Today I have a daughter at the halftime of her childhood.

I needed Kleenex. Not because I’m sad she’s getting older, or growing up too fast, but because I am so proud of the person she is becoming and 

Growing more into the person she was born to be.

When she was born I believed it was my role to shape her into the person I thought she would be. Or should be.

Now granted, there has been a whole lot of parenting done the past 9 years, but the essence of WHO she is, in her soul, was the way she came out of the womb.

This realization has been one of my most profound lessons of parenthood.

It would have been a lot easier if I realized from the get go.

She was not an easy baby. 

SO FUSSY. So, so, so fussy.  She wouldn’t let me put her down.

She wanted to be walked around, looking at things.  She would get bored easily. I would put her in the exersaucer to try to get dinner going, but then after 30 seconds she would start fussing until I came to relieve her of the exersaucer torture.

I thought I was doing something wrong as a mom. Why was she so fussy?  I wanted to make her HAPPY.  Isn’t that our goal as a mom – to make our children happy? To me I was failing because she was so fussy.

I would visit with friends who had mellow babies and marvel at how they appeared to be content.

Emma was the opposite of content. I used to describe her as “unsatisfied,”

She just wanted MORE.

But now as a 9-year-old I love this quality in her. I love her quest for knowledge. I love how she asks endless questions. I love her energy. I love her movement.  She’s a little gymnast, so she’s on her head half the time in handstands. It’s a joy to watch her.

She was this same person when she was a baby, but stuck without words or able to move on her own. 

No wonder she was fussy.

She was also a challenging toddler and young girl. Strong-willed was an understatement. She is very black and white – knows what she wants and is relentless in getting it.

She wore the same pair of pink Crocs for her entire 2-year-old year. I have a picture of her in her beautiful Christmas dress in dirty light pink Crocs. No amount of bargaining, tricking or convincing would change the fact that she was NOT going to wear another pair of shoes.


Photo credit: Erin Palos

This relentless conviction used to frustrate me to NO end.  WHY couldn’t she just put on another darn pair of shoes? WHY did she make things so difficult?

She likely wondered the same thing about me.  

No wonder she was fussy.

But now I love that quality in her.  She has a very strong sense of right and wrong and uses that same unwavering conviction to navigate good choices.

I love that she will be a woman who knows what she wants in life – and she will get it.

After an emotionally charged doctor’s visit for her two-year-old well check where she very clearly expressed her unhappiness with the appointment, my pediatrician looked at me with wide eyes and  told me, you really have a spirited child, and wrote down a book for me to get, “How to Raise a Spirited Child“.

I looked up the title, and the description was A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic. Yep. That pretty much summed her up. Then and now.

Raising a spirited little one can be draining.  I was tired for many years raising my spirited child. 

But at 9-years-old I appreciate her spirit more than words can express.

I love her intensity. Her passion for life, learning and her sport. I love her sensitivity and kind heart. I love her perceptiveness and how she doesn’t miss a beat. I love talking with her about her perceptions and observations. I love her persistence. If she sets a goal, she achieves it. I love her boundless energy.

As a new mom I wish I would have known then what I know now.

Knowing my Emma today would have made SO much more sense when she was a baby. I would have looked at her and said, “Of course. I get you.”

I wouldn’t have fought it so much or thought something was wrong. I would have realized she is who she is, and those same qualities that made her a challenging baby and young child are the same qualities that make her who she is, which is a pretty spectacular little girl.

When I told my friend on Facebook, you have the the best day of your life to look forward to, when thinking about it, that’s  not completely true. The experience of watching your child grow into the person they are only gets better and better and better.

Today I celebrate the fact we are at halftime, because I feel the best is still yet to come.



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  1. 1
    Susanne says:

    Tears! What a lovely share. Emma is beautiful, inside and out, and she is so lucky to have you as her mama. XOXO

    • 2
      jen says:

      Thank you Susanne….xoxoxxo

  2. 3
    Joey says:

    I too have a “spirited”, passionate, intense child. I love when teachers and parents understand that about him. And like Emma, he was born like this. I appreciate him so much more now that I realize that this is who he is and now I can embrace his qualities and watch as he grows into the young man that I am already proud of.

    • 4
      jen says:

      Thank you Joey! I have always said that all the qualities that make spirited children so hard to parent are all the qualities that are going to serve them so well in life!

  3. 5
    Angie says:

    Imagine Emma reading this post on her 18th birthday! These words are an amazing gift you have created for your baby. I love you both!

    • 6
      jen says:

      Oh Angie, thank you. I think of your 18 year old baby, and I can’t imagine. But then again, I can. What an amazing journey parenting is. I am blessed to have you to look up to. xoxoxo

  4. 7
    Christy says:

    Love, love, love this sweet post!!! What a special little lady you have – happy birthday, Emma!!

    • 8
      jen says:

      Thank you Christy! We can’t wait to meet your little Emma this August!

  5. 9
    Mandy says:

    This was beautiful Jen, and very inspirational to me, on the verge of becoming a first time mom any day now. You always hear a lot of the negatives of raising children and so rarely do you hear how kids illuminate your life in the profound ways you have described here. While my post yesterday may have inspired you, you have equally inspired me. Thank you!

    • 10
      Jen says:

      Mandy, you hit the nail on the head!!!!! Having my kids has really taught me so much about life, and who we are, in the most profound ways. Parenthood is such a gift and it has made me grow as a person watching my kids grow. It is a hard job, but the best, most rewarding one you could ever imagine!!!! I am so excited for you!

  6. 11
    Tara says:

    Profound my friend! I love you for sharing your journey —so open, honest, and beautiful. Thank u!! Xoxo

    • 12
      Jen says:

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment Tara! xoxoxo

  7. 13
    Lisa says:

    OMG. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a picture of Emma as a real newborn. So precious. She is one of my very favorite people (persons??? — I STILL don’t know how to word this sentence correctly — I’m 46 years old). She is perfect in every way and I am so grateful she is Sarah’s bestie!!!

    • 14
      Jen says:

      One day I will have to share some pics of Emma literally right out of the womb. She was stuck up under my rib in breech position so her nose was completely flat on one side. When the doctor took her out, he said to me, “Don’t be alarmed when you see her nose, it will go to an original shape. ” LOL as I type this. She was the funniest looking newborn, and I loved every single inch of that smushed up face!!!!!! Your girls are two of my favorite people on the entire earth as well. One of my greatest joys is being around these young girls, and noticing, and appreciating all of their beautiful, unique qualities. It is a gift. xoxoxox

  8. 15
    Kathy Zuorski says:

    Jen- the love you expressed brought me to tears.
    Both your girls are so fortunate to have you as a mom!
    They are also lucky to have a wonderful father and grandparents.
    Love reading Tiny Oranges.

    • 16
      Jen says:

      Thank you Kathy, so much, your comment means more to me than you know!!!

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