Monday, February 23, 2015

To The One I Least Understand

Dear Freckles,

Twelve years ago, yesterday, you told me you were on your way, whispering to my heart as the twinges began. It was early, but I knew it would soon be time. I'd spent the better part of the week prior preparing for the wedding of a dear friend, the one that your older brother was to be the ring bearer in. We all joked that I needed to stay pregnant at least long enough to get him through the ceremony, and no one was at all surprised when I started having contractions just afterwards at the reception.

You'd wait until the following day to arrive though, after a long sleepless night. There was much to do about your birth, so many people in that room that I wouldn't even hazard a guess at the number. My labor with you was filled with laughter and the odor of sandwiches consumed by giggling people in the corners of the room. Your father passed the time by trying to make me laugh, something I hated him a little bit for when a contraction would come along. Laughing only made the waves stronger.  

You waited until your grandparents arrived, then like a deer trapped in the headlights, your poor grandfather was stuck near the end of the bed for some reason. He rallied and did his best to avert his eyes when he needed to. A part of him was horrified to have been witness to your birth, but a bigger part was grateful I think. 

You came screaming into this world, literally. Before you had even fully crossed over to earthside, you were letting us all know that your lungs worked just fine. You wouldn't go quietly.

You wouldn't go quietly anywhere. Ever. Even now. 

You've been a tough one to figure out, as a baby, as a toddler, as a little girl, now as a young woman. I won't for one second pretend that I've mastered all that you are. You are, to me, a mystery far more often than not. 

Your father, though, he gets you. Because so much of him was you. You are so alike, the two of you, that it is eerie at times. I know that I'll never fully understand what makes you tick, but he seems to. I trust that the two of you will work things out. I'll be here, watching, marveling at just how much two distinct human beings can be so alike.  

There are tiny little pieces of you that look more like me, though, things that you do that I can't hold anyone else accountable for when I glance around the room at the usual suspects, the most glaring of which is your perfectionism. 

We really are superheroes, aren't we?
Supergirl and Wonder Woman.
Comic Con, 2013.
You hold yourself to this impossible standard for so many things. Your penmanship is precise. You edit and edit and edit. You won't turn in work that is substandard. You follow rules as though your life depends upon it. You fear failure so much that you hesitate to try new things. 

That, all of that, I understand, and because you are so much like me in this respect I push myself outside of my own comfort zone so that I won't be a hypocrite when I ask you to push out of yours. 

You were always the one clinging to my pant leg as a little girl. Your arms were always wrapped firmly around me. Your hand reaching up at mine even before I asked. You even did that a few weeks ago, you know, grabbing my hand as we walked into your school. You reminded me in that moment that although you're almost as tall as I am now, you're still so much my little girl.

You hang on. You stick out your toes into the water hesitating, pausing, pulling back. 

When you finally let go, though, it is magnificent to see. 

It always has been.

Your tiny victories have never been tiny ones.

You're the most deliberate of my children, the planner. You're the one who makes me laugh the most, makes me frustrated the most. You make so many of my emotions bigger, grander. 

I stare at you sometimes wondering what is going on in that blonde head of yours. Whatever it is, it has to be fascinating. 

You are my most interesting child and the one I least understand. 

For a long time I struggled with that part of our relationship. I felt like I was failing you because I didn't understand you. Now I know that when I least understand you, all I need to do is sit you down and look into your eyes and tell you that I love you and that I'm trying. I really am. 

I know that I can tell you that I'll never stop trying to understand you. I know that I can tell you that when I struggle with the things you do, sometimes I just need to lean more heavily on your father, because chances are that he knows exactly what I don't.

I love you, sweet girl. You've grown up so much this past year. 

Just remember that when life tells you that you are supposed to be growing up and getting older, if you need to reach out, my hand will always be there. Stay little as often and as long as you need. 

Happy Birthday. 


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