Halloween will forevermore be known in my mind as the anniversary-of-the-day-I-first-went-into-labor. Here we are, three full years later, and I can still picture that entire day with pristine clarity. I suppose you never forget the day that, for the first time in your life, you reach maximum capacity in your pregnancy. (It probably also added to the drama to have my water break in the middle of watching Dracula! That is definitely something you never forget!)
My firstborn daughter, Matilda, will turn 3 tomorrow on November 1st. I just can't believe it. THREE. Actual kid-dom. For real little-girl-ness. Absolute, walking, adorable energy balled up into one little being who has as much spunk as she does splendor, as much curiosity as she does cuteness, and as much fervor as she does favor. I love her to pieces, and can hardly remember life before her existence.
There is something about the firstborn child that just makes my heart sing and cry out for her. On one hand, I think that I will extend to her opportunities that my second-born (and not-yet-conceived-subsequent-children-of-the-future) may miss out on. I think I will experiment the most in my parenting methods with her. I think that I will challenge her more than the others, seeing how far she will push the boundaries or how far my limitations will be tested. It's hard to tell.
On the other hand, I really feel for her. She is the "pioneer" of our children. The first to have us as parents. The first to be wholly under our supervision and influence, and I gotta say - that can't be easy! Sometimes I wonder if she already realizes she is the guinea pig or not. Sometimes I worry whether she can tell we are just winging it as we go or if she knows how much I tweet about her strong will!
Matilda is stubborn, willful, and delightfully spirited. She knows what she likes (or as she says "I yike dat!") and will throw a dramatic fit just to clarify when she detests something. She plays hard and loves even harder. She will strangle perfect strangers in bear hugs if they smile at her and gleefully wave at passersby just to make her enthusiasm towards life that much more contagious.
What I have come to know (and gradually, daily, strive to fall in love with) is that toddlers are irrational, honest, unashamedly-answer-seeking individuals who just want to be in charge. Picture an angry lunatic running a big corporation and then yelling at his employees to tell him what's going on, and you'll have some clue as to the confusing day-in-the-life that it is to be a toddler. Their world just makes no sense to them, but they know there are answers out there to be had. Not having the answers, however, doesn't limit them from exacerbating themselves by throwing unwarranted demands around like they are stuffed animals (and sometimes, they are stuffed animals).
I have a feeling that 3 is going to be an amazing age for Matilda. I sense great rises in things like intellect and vocabulary (yikes) and hefty depths of character sinking into her mind and soul. Already she talks about angels, God, Jesus, and asks questions about feelings and how others are doing (like, really doing - like, empathizing better than many parents I've met). Its kind of like living with a resident-psychologist, someone always making you question your ideals or motives (why? why?) but still withholding judgment.
As we approach the threshold of her birthday, it got me thinking about who this little warrior will be when she grows up. What do I want for her? Who do I hope her to be? How will I relate to her? What if she turns out differently than I hope? Certainly, she will turn out differently than I hope...not necessarily better or worse, but she will be her own self, and how do I parent something so....so...so, unknown?
But, this led me to two thoughts:
1. There is no more unknown today than there was yesterday than there will be tomorrow.
There is always the same amount of unknown about our future, it's just that we usually get to comfortably live under the illusion and within the security of our predictions coming true.
Matthew 6:34 Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIV)
2. I need to model my life according to who I hope my child grows up to be.
I all too often find myself taking the easy road when it comes to living up to the standards I idealize. But, when I picture walking into my life as if it were my child's - am I disappointed? am I proud? would I try to fix her? would I encourage her? If I picture my current life as my child's future, how would I live differently? I find this much more motivating than simply longing for something better or settling for disappointing myself.
Have a happy birthday, Matilda. You inspire me.