So have I photo’d you out yet? How about I tell you a story.
Jessica, our oldest, just turned five. There is an entire category on this website dedicated to her and I might be partial, but she is amazing.
Right after Oliver was born we loaded up our little family in our in-laws mini-van and took off on our first family vacation to see very good friends of ours get married on the 4th of July in Grand Marais, MN. We were in the throws of learning how to navigate two small children, only Jessica wasn’t very small. She was 3 1/2 and completely full of life and objection and personality.
She was also full of hope, love and affection for her baby brother … although she didn’t always appreciate the amount of time he took away from her. And I couldn’t blame her.
Jessica is larger than life in real life. She really is. And not everyone can handle this, or her. Not everyone has the patience to listen to her tales or has the heart to watch her grow second by second as she magically transforms from child to lady.
But I do. And I have a fierceness about me when it comes to Jessica. I want to protect her and show her and make her strong. I want her to have all the information I didn’t have and I want her to know the things that no one dared tell me about what it meant to be a lady, what it meant to be a woman – the power we hold and how to harness it. How to be in this world without being of this world.
I don’t even know if this is a normal “parent thing” – I would assume it is … but Jessica is different. She really is. And few people catch on to that without my saying something first.
It was about this time (first family vacation/4th of July) that I started to get anxious about Jessica. About her personality and about how to still enjoy being with our friends while still being sensitive to Jessica’s growing curiosity … and understanding of relationships.
She was to the age where she understood that someone just didn’t want to deal with her when they tried to politely tell her “I’ll play with you … for 3 more minutes but then I’m going to sit down and talk to someone else.” It crushed me, literally broke me, to see her understand that what they were really saying was “You’ve taken enough of my time, and it’s valuable … and I’d like to spend it elsewhere now.”
She started getting brushed off. She started getting older. And it was more pronounced with a new baby around. She lost her cutesy baby image – and started getting smart – which isn’t actually what a group of people want in a small person. They want a ham or comedian. They want to be entertained. But Jessica wasn’t willing to play by their rules. Sure, she knew how to ham it up and LOVED to entertain but she gets it – she can read the emotional temperature of a room and she knows if you’re engaging her or just idly standing by … waiting for it to be over.
So I have all of this going on inside of me … wanting to make her way in the world easier, less bumpy and less rejection filled. I wanted to go ahead of her and take all the sticks and stones off the trail. I wanted to make sure there was nothing lurking behind the trees and that the sun was shinning through the canopy above … when someone threw me a life vest in parenting and recognized Jessica for who she was.
We were at the reception of our friends wedding when someone came up to me and asked if I was Jessica’s mom. That little girl? Running and playing with the other kids?
Yes, I said. Timid. Worried.
She’s fantastic! I mean it! She’s incredible! You have a wonderful little girl, I can’t believe it. You must be so in love.
I can still count on one hand the number of people who have approached me like this. Sought me out just to praise her. And she’s so worth it. All of it. All the praise in the world. She deserves it all.
But at that wedding reception in a small, beautiful town someone gave me permission to believe in it loudly. To name it. To protect it. To cultivate and grow it. To nurture her … her very being.