Saturday, January 12, 2008

A girl unlike me.

It is without question that I am a girly-girl. Pink has been my favorite color since birth - although I vaguely remember a fling with green somewhere around kindergarten or first grade. I love makeup and clothes - in appropriate sizes - jewelry and hats. Especially hats. I haven't even a sprinkling of knowledge of cars or weapons or fishing poles, or movies containing copious amounts of bodily function humor. And, with a couple exceptions, I really dislike sports. While I admit that my aversion to athletics may have started as a result of my astounding lack of coordination, I cannot even feign appreciation as a spectator. Unless one of the men in my life is playing. Which they do. Often. My poor husband, who watches more football than one would think possible for an employed adult, has long given up on me accepting the position next to him on the sofa. The one of second string armchair quarterback.

When Allison was born it didn't take long to discover I had birthed a kindred spirit in these regards. I still find it hard to believe she wasn't born wearing a tiara. Maybe she lost it in the womb. That would explain some of the lumps and bulges she left behind. I tried to encourage her to tryout athletics so as not to predispose her to the life of PE humiliations I had lived. But, bless her heart, she is as uncoordinated and disinterested as her mama. By the age of eight she would pronounce matter-of-factly "Sports are not my thing. I like music and art." And, as wrong as it is, my heart soared a little. Because somewhere inside I think we all want our offspring to share some of our interests. And that child, she even out girlys me. She recently stated a longing to "bring back the antebellum style of fashion, because then she could wear a beautiful dress every day." Darn that Scarlett O'Hara. Even I know better than to think chasing Weekids in hoopskirts would be a thing of enjoyment.

Oh but hats...I wouldn't mind bringing some of those back.

And then my second girl, Clara, was born. I think God may have chuckled a bit when he sent that soul to be raised by me. Even the name we chose for her evoked images of the ribbons and curls and petticoats in her namesakes in Heidi and The Nutcracker. While I knew, even admitted, that she might be different than Allison and I, I don't think I really believed it. And so, when we came home from the hospital with fat little bruiser of baby that yelled before she cooed and hit before she snuggled I looked on in fascination and a little bit of terror. Even my boys - as rough and loud as they are now - were gentle and sweet as babies. But Clara, that girl was born loud. With a strong opinion and a solid right hook. I simply didn't know how to love a baby like her.

But, love her I did. Eventually. I confess it was the awkward, tentative affection of an arranged marriage at first. Tiptoeing around her. Getting to know this strange new personality. But eventually, and then all at once, the things that initially intimidated me about her, became those I loved most of all. I became smitten with her exuberance and her fight; tickled by her fearsome growls and the way she would lunge at you, in her rough and tumble version of affection. I am overjoyed that she loves to wrestle and play balls and cars with Ben and I find pride in her resilience and toughness. She rarely cries from fear or injury. Yet, she roars hotly in anger or frustration. And oh, her independence, and her stinginess with her hugs and kisses has made them all the more cherished. Like flowers in winter.

I adore my Roley-poly tiger of a baby girl. The right hooks though, those I could still do without.

Ironically, she seems to be softening in her ripe old age of eighteen months. The hugs and kisses come more frequently. She's even showing some disputably feminine qualities. She tolerates hair bows now, patting them and singsonging pri-eee. (pretty) She puts hats and crowns on her head and sways with a coy "aren't-I-adorable look" before she rips them off and flings them across the room. And this morning I found her snuggling her babydoll when I went to get her out of her crib. I still find a whisper of relief in these changes but not because I feel I will need them as bricks to build my love on. My adoration for the person she is, who she will be, has gone far beyond that point. It's more that now, without them and the common ground they provide, I would question my strong-willed, enchantingly independent daughter's ability to find value in me.

She's going to take on the world that one, and leave me standing in her wake. Now I'm just praying she remembers to look back.


bubandpie said...

Really, your Clara is just the cutest thing I've ever seen. Every time you post a picture I just want to eat her up - that impish expression is wonderful.

Lori said...

Joy, This was beautifully written and heartwarming to read. I love your descriptions of your gorgeous girls. Your honesty is always so refreshing and inspiring.

She is so precious. I can't help but notice the slight red mark under her eye. A badge of honor left over from a tussle with her brother, perhaps? That little Clara is going to take the world by storm!

Chrissy said...

Both of your girls are so lovely. I think our older girls and our younger girls have much in common. (Antebellum dresses! Allie is so precious!)

I am secretly glad when Grace is interested in the same things I am, too. I love having that common ground with her. And one of my proudest moments was finding out that Katie was a lefty like me.

Beck said...

My little 'un is a bit of a bruiser too. And your Clara is JUST the sweetest girl! Look at that brave little face.

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

What a lovely post about your girls. Save this one for both of them to read!

Kyla said...

Oh! She's a delightful little bruiser. Gorgeous and bold, that's quite a combination.

the dragonfly said...

If I ever have a daughter, she will probably be a girly-girl...precisely because I am not. ;)

Don and Lynn said...

Every mom HAS to have a daughter that is complete opposite of herself. That's my Taylor-totally foo-foo girly-girl. And me, totally tomboy! You can send Clara over to my house and I'll teach her how to play a mean game of softball and volleyball-lol!

Slackermommy said...

Beautiful! I can completely relate. All three of my girls are so different and need to be treated differently. I'm constantly scratching my head and thinking "Huh?"

Lisa writes... said...

While not the mother of a girl unlike me, I am the mother of one very contrary son (and three other not quite so contrary sons). I too wonder at the man he will become and if it is true, as James Dobson has said, that strong willed children will change the world. If they survive. Hey, who am I kidding, if I survive to see it... ;-)

Such a beautiful post. You have such a gift of expressing the inexpressible with such tenderness and beauty. God has granted you a gift and I am so glad you share it with us. I am the better for it.