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.