When you have a baby, everybody tells you about how fast it will go. About how over the moon in love you will be. About sleepless nights and first steps. But no one ever tells you that there will be times during your baby’s childhood (and oh my, probably adulthood) that you just won't relate to or understand who they are. No one explains that just because you love a child doesn't necessarily mean that you will know how to coexist together.
It's been a rough go for my second born and I this last year. I'd say that it has stretched me more than anything else along my parenting journey. It seems our personalities are so different and we are constantly clashing.
Like the other day when, while getting ready for a harvest party, Alberta came out of her bedroom rubbing her lips back and forth, spreading out her chap stick with her hair combed silky. She asked if I thought J would think she looked beautiful. She's four. J is a boy. I stood there sort of stunned for a second before saying the worst thing I possibly could have said.
"Don't be silly Alberta, we shouldn't care about that."
Why do I always say we? As if she is the same person as me. Why do I always say the wrong thing?
She instantly turned magenta red and walked back into the room and I could tell that I had humiliated her. Oh, it's so easy to humiliate that child. In college, I once skidded down an entire flight of stairs while my professor watched horrified from the bottom and I stood up only mildly embarrassed.
She obviously did care about "things like that" and regardless of how I think she should feel or how concerning I find it that she already likes boys, I should not have scolded her for being herself. I'm not sure what I should have said but I know I should not have scolded her.
My oldest daughter and I have our struggles but so often the things that she needs guidance with are things that I've struggled with myself. I, however, did not care about boys at four. I wasn't overly vain or sensitive. I didn't snap with my voice when I was embarrassed.
I'd like to give you a neat and tidy five-point list of ways to nurture and connect with a child that you don't understand but honestly, I need someone to write that post for me. I haven't quite figured it out yet. I'm sure there are very effective tools such as one-on-one outings, finding similar interests, or praying together. But I haven't really gotten a handle on it all yet. Sometimes it feels a little hopeless. I worry that we'll fight our way through life. I worry that she won't confide in me or trust me or even like me. We just don't often "get" each other.
However, I can give you one bit of wisdom that I do know to be true.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
God made my Alberta who she is, for good works, and with her sometimes confusing, but oh so beautiful personality, she can walk in them throughout her life. She was made on purpose, for a purpose. I'm beginning to see the extraordinary ways she will shine little by little and sometimes you've just got to trust.
I'll wrap this up but I just had to add one more thing. The other day, as I looked out the window at my beautiful daughter sitting precariously on a very high tree branch with her evening gown hanging well past her boots, I realized that in addition to the good parts of her, I'm giving her the good parts of me. And when mixed together, they are exquisite.
They are so exquisite that they actually reminded me of someone. Tears filled my eyes and my heart swelled with tremendous joy. I can't begin to tell you the flood of relief I felt when I realized that that Someone is my very Best Friend.
We will be ok.
Lola is wife to Mark, mama to three daughters and one little man (read about his birth here). She is a Doula and novice homesteader living in Nova Scotia, wildly blessed and learning not to become sidetracked from the truly beautiful and meaningful things in life. You can visit her at nearerstillnearer.squarespace.com