My oldest daughter entered this world screaming. It was such a relief hearing her cry for the very first time. It was a scary, emergency c-section after a tumultuous labor and I couldn’t see what was happening but I heard her cry. I knew she was ok.
Her first 12 weeks of life were spent doing a lot of screaming as well. If she wasn’t eating or sleeping (which she fought and fought), she was screaming. I felt like such a failure. All these other moms would post pictures of babies that were not screaming all the time. I took her to the doctor so many times looking for answers. I cut nearly everything joyful out of my diet but nothing ever seemed to help. So I’d wear her in a carrier and I’d walk around the house all the day long. I’d put on music or tv for a break up of the monotony, and often I’d cry right along with her.
As time went on, she grew out of the colic, but she always has been a strong willed child. Very sensitive.
Unfortunately, because she’s my oldest, I didn’t have the patience or skills that have developed over time and I fear I’ve made some of my worst parenting mistakes on her. But I’ve always loved her deeply and fiercely.
I remember her first cold and how I wouldn’t leave her side for 3 full days. I knew in my heart what it really meant to love someone. She taught me that. For the first time in my life, I felt closer to understanding the depth of God’s love for us.
As she grew, it became very apparent that she’s fierce. She’s fierce in passion, and in love and in her sense of justice and fairness, and in her emotions. When she feels something, she feels it deeply. There’s no hiding it. When she’s joyful, it’s a sight to behold and when she’s angry, she likewise has a hard time containing it.
It’s my job as her mom to help her to navigate these strong feelings in the real world and I’ve been working with her on it since she was a toddler.
I love that she has such a strong personality and that she isn’t afraid to speak out when something isn’t right. Yet she needs to learn how to handle things in the right way. We all can’t just act on our feelings all the time without some negative and very heartbreaking consequences.
I know first hand just how difficult she can be, so when a conflict arises with others, I talk it through with her. I listen to her side but then I try to get her to put herself into the other person’s shoes and see it from their perspective. Then I try asking her questions about what she thinks they were feeling or thinking. Oftentimes she is able to see some of her errors and we talk about how she can take responsibility for what she’s done, and apologize when necessary without being taken advantage of.
It’s a skill set that many adults haven’t even developed, so I don’t ever expect her to get things right even most of the time.
What I’m doing is helping her learn to empathize with people and then having her think through better ways to handle situations next time so that she’s not just allowing her emotions to rule over her. But she’s only 9, and these things take time.
She loves people fiercely and has a strong sense of loyalty and tends to expect the same from other friends, which sets herself up for hurt when people don’t act in the ways she expects them to. When a friend rejects her or starts spending time with another friend, it hurts her deeply. Sometimes she creates unwritten rules for her friends that they don’t know about or understand and it can push people away. This is something too I am working with her on. But I wish people saw how much she cares about them.
She knows all her friends likes and dislikes and she writes them little notes and cards that I find around the house that are so thoughtful and kind. “Just wanted you to know that I saw you being kind to —- the other day and I love that about you. I think you’re a very kind friend.” She absolutely looks for the good in everyone and let’s them know how much she cares about them.
When people hurt her, she’s quick to forgive and then she doesn’t bring it up again.
She can tell when someone is sad and is the kid that will go to them.
She’s also not afraid to stand up for others when she feels they are being treated unfairly. If you’re her friend, she’ll go to bat for you, no matter the social cost. That’s her kind of loyalty, and again, it’s what she expects from others, but she is often disappointed as many, many other children will not risk the social cost to stand up for her. But it won’t change her doing it for them.
I can give example after example of her going against the grain to stand up for what she believes in. I’ve been so proud, not only of her bravery, but also the way she goes about it. Not all the time. Sometimes she’s mean and goes too far. That’s what I have to help her with.
And sometimes she’s just wrong about things but has a hard time giving in. Again, I work with her in that.
I just wish everyone could see her heart. It’s not perfect and she’s made plenty of mistakes and will continue to do so but she has such a huge heart.
And she’ll learn not to let others opinions of her matter as much as they do now. Right now, my mama heart hurts for her and I just needed to write about the person that she is. The whole person. Her faults, her greatness, all of it. I need her to know she’s loved and accepted beyond anything she can imagine.
I’m always going to hold her accountable, but I’m always going to love her too. And I’m going to make sure she’s around people willing to see her faults and her greatness.