Tuesday, February 24, 2009

when opposites attract

My oldest daughter is quite different from me.

Some might call her high maintenance, some bossy, some dramatic, some super-sweet. But none of that really sums her up at all. She is the absolute most unique person I know. I'm afraid to write this post, because I want to capture her so perfectly, and really, I can't. I already know that.

From the day that girl was born she had my heart. She was the very best surprise I've EVER gotten, right along with her siblings. :) But there's something about a firstborn, ya know? I remember having these very strange feelings of jealousy when Lillian was born. I finally pinpointed it after pondering a while: it was jealousy toward my sister Angela. I realized, by having Lillian, what my sister got with my parents, and it broke my heart to know I never had that. I'm happy to report that since I now have three kids, and I was a 3rd child, I know that I had something special too. But I wasn't a firstborn.

Lillian was very loved. She was the first baby on both sides of our families. I had all but 2 of both of our siblings in the delivery room soon after she was born. We were still getting everything cleaned up from the delivery, and they were all there. She was so special to everyone. She changed family get-togethers completely, brought more joy than we had even known was possible. She stole our hearts.

And then she grew up.

Seriously, it seems like that's what happened. And now she's very suddenly this GIRL. a real person. and is she really mine? because how can she be so different from me?

I consider myself to be a go-with-the-flow kind of girl. Adaptability was my #2 on the strengths finder test. I like to think I remain calm in most situations. Things don't phase me like they do other people. I have a freaky trust in God that even I don't understand. But what else can you do??? Um...I think I have some leadership skills. But it has to be exactly the right situation. exactly. And, I'm a real home body. Some people probably think I'm really plain and boring. And that's okay.

And then, out of ME, comes this full-of-life, tons of personality, extremely social (well, I guess that has to be the right situation), beautiful little being. hm? Steve is not all that different from me, except he has this whole other section of his theatrical brain that I don't have. But when he's not on stage, he's a lot like me. And we're positive she's ours. It's fascinating, really.

But she's growing up so quickly. And last Thursday night took that thought and slapped it in my face. big time.

Steve's friend Cori works at the Rose Children's Theater. And you all know Lillian is in dance classes, so we decided to take her to see the ballet company do Swing Swing Swing. We were both supposed to go with her, but in case you forgot about the forever loving long post I wrote last week, we had a few sick kids. So one of us had to stay home. And my dear husband thought I needed a night out with my girl. So I obliged. :)

And I'm not kidding....
We're on our way to the Rose and Lillian says, "Ugh, mom? I cannot WAIT until I turn 18." I'm sorry? Had I gone mad being trapped in the house with sick kids all week? or was she really saying this...already. ????????

So I play it cool. Remember? I go-with-the-flow. :) "Really? Why do you want to turn 18 so bad? I'd kinda like it if you don't grow up so fast."

"beCAUSE, Mom! I just really have to be 18. I do. And then I can be a mom."

So we have probably our first of many talks (oh gosh...) about how it might be better to wait a while to be a mom, because when you're 18 you have high school and stuff, and it would be hard to be a mom. And then I realize she doesn't even know what eighteen MEANS so I could save the seriousness for a few years. So I do what I have found works really well with this child, and I just play along with it.

I have fought too many battles with her over things that don't matter just because I think I have to get a point across. And I know there is a time and a place for that. But most often, if I just really try to get to know her mind a little better, I see that she's not being defiant or stubborn. She's just trying to get the ideas in her head out in real life. And usually, if I just play along, then we can accomplish what we both want. I realize that this whole 4-year-old-wanna-be-18-year-old-mama thing doesn't really fit into this category, but it's been so fresh in my mind lately, so I've been deliberately trying to just get to know her more.

So we had a little conversation about her being a mom. I don't remember anything specific about it. But we were just having conversation. It was like we were just two friends having a girls' night out.

We got to the theater and she was SO excited! She shows her emotion much more than I do. Her eyes got all big, and she kept just trying to take it all in. She asked about a million questions. And not about the theater, actually, like I thought they'd be. They were mostly about people. She's always been like that. She always needs to know what people are thinking and feeling. She is possibly the sweetest and genuinely caring person I know. I hope she never loses that.

*did you REALLY think she'd leave Ella at home???*

And soon enough they started the show. I told her before it started that one of the soldiers was going to fall in love with one of the girls. It takes a few scenes before you figure out who it's going to be. And Lillian couldn't get enough of them. She kept asking over and over if they were in love yet, and every time they weren't in a scene, she wanted to know where the boy and the girl who loved each other were. So hey, I guess she's got a little of me in her after all. Ya gotta love a little romance. :)

After the show we went to find Cori, even though it was past her bedtime. She got to see Cori, and she got to see the lead dancer up close and personal. (she was totally in awe, couldn't say anything, and sat there starting with her mouth literally hanging open while the dancer's family just watched and giggled.) And then we walked to the car, and drove home, and talked to Daddy, and then...you'll never believe it...

She was still in her whole "grown up, 18 years old and a mother" phase, so she got herself ready for bed, read a book to Josiah who was waiting up for her, tucked him in, said his prayers, got her own nebulizer, and did her own treatment, all while I cleaned up the kitchen. They were still sleeping on their cots in our room at this point, so we could monitor their breating a little better, and she just got in her cot and went to bed without a peep.

I did a few more things around the house, and eventually ended up in bed thinking about the night. Lillian and I don't get too many moments like that together. I have way too high of expectations, and, while I don't want her to grow up too fast, I still expect her to act way older than she is. I expect her to do more, help more, understand more. I hate that. But that night we didn't have any of that. No head-butting, no expectations, no "parenting" or disciplining, just us. And here she was, practically growing up in front of my face. It made me so sad to realize that I miss it, all the time. I get so caught up in our differences that I have to make a conscious effort to figure out her brain, her personality.

And no matter how different we are from each other, we clicked that night. we just clicked. And I want more clicking. I want to know her better. And know her NOW. Because all too soon she WILL be 18, and I dont' want to miss it.

So I'm just going to keep reminding myself to love our differences. Okay so we're opposites. But I remember sitting at my Grandma and Grandpa Smokey's dining room table playing with magnets, and putting one under the table and one on top. And we did lots of cool things with those magnets and that table. It was like magic. And you just can't have that kind of magic without opposites.


Corinne Doughan said...

GREAT blog Andrea! You're a very good writer! And of course a very good Mom!

Gina said...

Oooh, this one made me cry, too. Then while I was crying I read the magnet part and I snorted my way into laughing. Those were the best! (Until I found out what they were actually used for...) And yay for first born babies. :) Nothing like 'em.

Amanda said...

This is really sweet, Andrea. Great post.

Anonymous said...

This was wonderful Andrea and I can relate so much! Dejah and I aren't so much opposites, I think we're too much alike and that's why we're always butting heads. Too stubborn I guess, we both want to have things our way! I know I don't have any other kids but I agree with the first born thing. It's amazing the connection you can have with a child and having that mother daughter time with NO arguments, and just hanging out is the BEST! It's so much fun to have a little friend, not just a daughter.


The Yellow Door Paperie said...

Such a sweet story. Three/four year old conversations kick my butt. I really want to giggle through most of them and over explain the others. Thanks for reminding me to be in the moment!

Angela Kim said...

I'm teary too. Gosh, I love that kid. can't wait to see you all tomorrow.