No one tells you that for parenting to work, you have to keep falling in love with your kids over and over and over again. I have had a serious crush on my daughter this week, and a renewed appreciation for her bright spirit and cheerful attitude.
She really is the most amazing person. Not just kid, but person. Everyone who knows her will tell you. She is so good-hearted, but ferocious at the same time. She doesn't always reveal what's going on in her head, but when she does, she sums up with a cutting combination of incredible insight and minimal words. She's hardcore and bossy, but at the same time is always cheerful and optimistic.
She is nothing like me, which makes her all the more intriguing. She is like her dad in a few traits, but her overall personality is nothing like his either. She is her own thing.
I had Miss G when I was 22 and unmarried. Her dad moved out before she was 2. The two of us have had incredibly difficult times and outrageous fun in the nine years since then. I got married this past spring to Dan, who came in a package deal with a new stepdaughter, Miss L. Miss G and Miss L are pretty tight, but Miss G still wants a "real" little sister.
I say "Listen, kid. Why should I even bother having another baby, when I just nailed it perfect the first time? There is no way I could have another baby that would come even close to being as cool as you."
"Mama, listen. Here's what you do. All you have to do is move around a lot, and then put her in a crappy daycare that she hates, live in an apartment instead of a house with no yard to play in so she can't have a dog, and watch movies with her, and sing a lot in the car. And then you'll do everything with her that you and me do, and then she'll be like me."
Her delivery is very matter-of-fact, simply listing the elements as she sees them that have combined to create her persona.
"Honey, I am so sorry you went through that stuff. And so sorry it took me so long to get you a house with a yard."
"Mama. Don't cry. It's okay. That's what I'm saying, is all that stuff was good because it made me how I am and you like how I am and I like how I am. You're a good mom."
"Anyways Mama. Even if we did all that stuff for my little sister, she still wouldn't be like me, cause she'd have Dan as a dad instead of my dad, and he's a really good dad."
This does not make me feel any better.
When she was first born, everyone told me how fast it would go. And it has, as predicted, gone way too fast. She's wearing eyeshadow to school, and in my mind she's still only around 4. But I'm loving this, love watching her evolve into a self-assured and self-aware... well, I can't say "woman" yet, but maybe I could use the hated phrase "young lady." She handles herself with such grace and confidence.
More than loving my kid, I just really like her. I like that she calls me Mama still at age 11, even though she's acted like she's 32 since birth. I like the puckish glint in her eyes, that she's spirited enough to be her own person but reasonably obedient. I like that I can't tell her no about anything without a full explanation. It's exasperating sometimes, but at least I know she'll never meekly back down without a fight.
And I can't take credit, I really can't. She's been like this since birth, I swear. I had to install a lock on the outside of her bedroom door when she was 2. People look at me like I'm a monster when I say that, but it was for her own safety. I woke up in the middle of the night one night and heard something downstairs. I went down, and there's my toddler sitting and watching TV at 3 am. She's eating a bag of chips, which she opened using a butcher knife that is sitting next to her on the couch. She hadn't wanted to wake me, see, so she just took care of everything herself.
That's Miss G. Independent, but considerate. The lock got installed the next day, and the knife drawer was relocated up into the cabinets. She is so headstrong that the best I can do is give her medium-level guidance and give her advice on a regular basis. Sometimes she listens, sometimes not. I'm surprised and thankful she's as well-behaved as she is, given how strong her personality is.
I've been watching Miss G from a distance this weekend, and her beauty captures me. Every word out of her mouth amazes me, these glimpses of the woman she'll grow into are hiding behind her and I am so excited by what I see. It's like a trailer for the best movie in the world, but the movie never ends and the plot keeps getting better.