Sunday, May 12, 2013

Thoughts on Mother's Day: Dear Lila

Dear Lila,
I am so proud of you.  You have navigated the big changes in your life with such courage and tenacity. I'm amazed by your positive attitude, your hard work and your unconditional and immediate love for your little sister.  

Lila, having Faith as a sister will not always be easy.  There will be times when it seems like we are giving her preferential treatment.  There will be times when being her big sister will require things of you beyond the responsibilities of most big sisters.  I want you to know that when we adopted Faith, we considered you.  We considered how having a sister with big needs would affect you.  And in our consideration we were convinced that you are up for the task.  We know that you have it in you to be the best kind of sister for Faith.  And in the last few weeks you have proved us right time and again.

Already you are showing us your ability to care for your sister.  You are sensitive to Faith's needs - you tell me, "Mommy, I think Faith is tired" or "Mommy, Faith is sad because she dropped her toy."  You are protective of her - we have begun to let other people hold her and this bothers you because you noticed that we hadn't let anyone outside our family hold her yet.  You advocate for her - if I don't respond to Faith's cries right away, you hassle me until I do!  You take care of her - you bring her toys, put her socks back on, tuck her in with her blanket, and talk to her when she's fussy.  You affirm her achievements - you cheer when she rolls over (a task we've been working on!) or even when she makes it through a car ride without falling asleep!

I imagine you in several years, putting all of those things to work as Faith joins you at school.  You will be the perfect support for her.  You will be her guardian, her cheerleader.  We will feel at peace with the idea of sending her into an environment where we cannot be with her because you will be there for her.  She is so lucky to have you as a sister!

Aside from what an awesome big sister you are, I am also so proud of you for working hard on obedience.  You are learning that you have a choice to obey and you are learning how to engage your self-control which is very hard for you.  I have tried to be more consistent and more patient with my instructions and consequences and we have had our best week yet since Faith came home!  Hooray!

We have reluctantly started transitioning you into a rest time in the afternoons in lieu of your naps (because if I'm honest, naps haven't been working for a long time and I just wasn't ready to give them up yet!).  I set the alarm on your little pink clock and charge you with the task of playing quietly until it goes off.  We tried for 15 minutes the first day, 20 minutes the second, 30 minutes the 3rd, etc and today you made it a whole hour without coming out of your room!  Not only that, but when you came in to announce that your alarm had gone off I asked you to go pick up the toys you had played with and you proudly informed me that you already had!  Without me asking you to!  "You wanna see?" you asked me excitedly.  And we hurried into your room to find it spick and span!  You were so proud and excited and I was soooo proud of you!  Daddy heard us celebrating and he came jumping in the room in enthusiastic support of your accomplishment!  I loved seeing how excited and proud you were!

Tonight as I was snuggling beside you in bed, I was overwhelmed with how big you are getting and yet how small you are still.  I was hit with your vulnerability and maturity all at once.  I don't even know what to say about that, but I was just undone.  I wasn't sure which to feel more emotional about - the depth of your need for comfort and soothing, for reassurance and boundaries, for security and affirmation; or the outlandish length of your legs and the grown-up way you stroked my hair and kissed me goodnight.  After you were snoring, I kissed your head and breathed in that heart-melting smell of a little girl who has played hard and enjoyed this sweet earth.  It was sweat and dirt and grass and fresh air mixed in with your own natural little girl perfume.  I want to bottle it up.  I want to bottle you up.  

Sometimes I jokingly say, "Stop being three!" when you are driving me a little nuts.  But I don't mean that.  What I really mean to say to myself is, "Stop being such a grown up!  Enjoy the thrill of high pitch squeals echoing in the bathroom stalls!  Indulge in grotesque imitations of Faith's big belly burps!  Run recklessly through the long hallways of Target just for the thrill of a long stretch of road ahead!  Jump!  Off of EVERYTHING!  Don't think twice about eating a fallen fruit snack!  Wear twirly dresses and ask perfect strangers if they think I'm beautiful!  Pull everything out of my dresser drawers and line up my favorite outfits on every spare inch of floor space in my room!  Sing!  At the top of my lungs!  Inside!"  

Sometimes I lose perspective.  Sometimes I forget that this time is fleeting, just like they say.  Sometimes I wish it away.  Gasp!

But sometimes time stands still and the beauty of your long eyelashes catches my breath.  Sometimes I am overcome just by the look on your face and I just want to squeeze all the breath out of you (you know, in a good way).  Sometimes, you undo me with a word and I go from feeling frustrated and angry to tender and affectionate at once.  

You are my greatest challenge and my greatest delight.  You stretch me and push me and I am all the better for it.  Some day you will grow up and become a mommy and you will understand what I mean when I say: I weep for love of you.  My emotions run too deep, too fierce, too wild, too strong for me to chain them in and tears flow freely - gathering into pools of affection and love with each drip-drip-drip. I am a sniffily, snuffily beautiful mess of a mama's crazy reckless love for her girl.

Lila, every day I am glad I am your mommy.  Every day.  Today is no exception.  You are the reason that Mother's Day applies to me.  You made me a mommy.  I love being a mommy.  I love being your mommy.
This picture is blurry, but I just love what it captured.  You rarely let me put your hair up and I talked you into a ballerina bun today.  I took this picture to show you what your hair looked like from behind and I love the look on your face that I accidentally captured.  You are admiring yourself in that innocent way that little girls have.

1 comment:

brit said...

what. a. beautiful. post. you capture having a 3 year old so perfectly. you have a serious gift in writing.