I have two sisters and lots of girl cousins. In fact, on my dad’s side of the family I am one of seven grandchildren; all girls except for the oldest. On my mom’s side of the family I spent countless sleepovers and summer days playing with my three cousins – all girls. When I first became pregnant I just knew our baby was a girl. We decided (okay, my husband decided) that it was better to be completely surprised by our baby’s gender, but it just had to be a girl. And when the time finally arrived, I’ll never forget the nurse saying, “Oh, what a pretty tiny girl face.” (Our baby was in the posterior position and coming face up.) But within seconds my “gut instinct” was quickly proven wrong with the announcement, “It’s A Boy!!” And I immediately felt a slight panic. Boy? A boy? What am I going to do with a boy!?
That feeling faded in less than 30 seconds, and I feel in love with that tiny baby boy more deeply than I ever imagined possible. I enjoyed every minute of those early days learning to be his mom, and I cherish the memories of those days. I had a sense of wonder and amazement in my son’s delight over trucks, super heroes, balls, crashing things, and throwing things. Our bond was so strong, and I never felt like I was missing out by not having a daughter. A few years later, when I was pregnant with baby #2, I often thought it would be nice to have a girl, but it would be perfectly okay if I had another boy too.
My husband sweetly gave in, and with our second pregnancy we found out our baby’s gender as soon as we could. We were thrilled when we found out we were having a girl! Within in no time, we were surrounded by bows, frilliness and all things pink. That was expected. What was not expected was the frequency that people would remark, “Oh, a boy and a girl! Now you have a complete family!” Really? Is having both a boy and a girl a secret goal that all parents have? As young parents, we thought that notion was odd at best, but we didn’t care because we were delighted in having two, healthy, happy children…and of course, it didn’t hurt that we had “one of each.” (But three years later I guess we unbalanced things a bit when our second son was born.)
It didn’t take long to realize our daughter was very different from her brother. For one, she didn’t see the need in prolonging snuggle time after a feeding. When she was done – she was done. She was also very quiet. She didn’t babble excessively. She didn’t talk much at all until she was 26 months old – right after we got back from our first trip to Disney World. (Apparently, she was waiting on something worth talking about.) And honestly, we were worried that our daughter wasn’t going to have much of a personality. She was sweet and cute, but she didn’t laugh a lot or try to be funny. It is almost as if she spent her first two years of life intently observing things and taking them all in.
The hindsight of my daughter’s early years is an insightful foreshadowing of one common truth – it’s all in her timing. She isn’t one to be coaxed in to things. She doesn’t do things out of obligation; she does them from her heart. In many ways, she is everything that I am not. And I love her dearly for it. She is not a naturally complaint child, but quite an opinionated one. When she draws a line in the sand, be prepared for a battle. She is tough, stubborn, spirited, and yet she is insightful, caring, and compassionate. She feels deeply. She can wrestle with the boys one minute and lovingly dress her dolls the next. And if you were ever a fly on the wall in our house you might think she were the mother of our three year old, not me. I am sure she brings a sense of softness to our family that her future sister-in-laws will be most thankful for.
This past year has been a tough one for my girl. She is struggling learning to read, and it breaks my heart when I see an expression of self doubt come over her. She is also having trouble breaking a bad habit of sucking her thumb. She only does it when she sleeps, but oddly, she didn’t start this until she was five – just weeks before her grandmother passed away after a long battle with cancer. Several months ago witnessing her insecurity was a much too frequent occurrence. But recently, I’ve realized it is happening less and less. And at the ripe old age of six, it is clear what an amazing woman she is going to be one day.
A few days ago my daughter became upset over something. Her dad hurt her feelings, and she was fuming. (Did I mention she can also be a tad dramatic?) With arms crossed, she was making sure he was aware of her anger. It was evident that my husband was purposefully trying to be wise and calm with her. But he could not break through her silent treatment. And rightfully, she was sent to the corner for her disrespect. I took my husband aside and quietly suggested for him to just hold her in his lap, tell her he loves her and… wait. Being the jokester that he is he retorted, “Who are you all of a sudden? Dr. Phil?” I laughed heartily and gave an encouraging glance in her direction. He took my advice and executed it beautifully. Soon she was talking to him and sharing what had hurt her feelings, and they made up. In less than five minutes she was happily running upstairs. And watching their interaction made my heart sing – Thank you, Lord, for my daughter. What a gift!