falling in love all over again

10:36 AM

Discovering Birdie's personality has been akin to the act of peeling an onion, ever so slowly. As any parent for whom the euphoria of the newborn stage has worn off can tell you, most newborns and babies for that matter, are more or less the same - they sleep a lot, they ask for their basic needs to be met with crying and the best way to to cajole emotion out of them is via toys procured specifically for that purpose. That's not to say they're not heaps of fun and all kinds of wonderful it's just that you don't quite know who they really are, yet.
We talked a lot about our dreams for our future children before we had any with papa bear. We took intelligent guesses at what their personality might look like and we discussed parenting strategies. And initially with Birdie it seemed like she fit our idea of who she might be. She was fairly docile, well-behaved and just all around easy. We thought we had it made. We grinned with pride when told at restaurants by waiters that we have the most well-behaved child they had ever seen, we melted into puddles when strangers commented on how reserved and sweet our daughter was and we just basked in the loveliness that is a quiet obedient child.
Fast forward six months or so and we began to see a change take place. It wasn't anything significant at first, just little habits we would notice or new expressions that would begin to color her daily interactions with us. It started to become more and more clear that this little girl was incredibly independent, always favoring to do something, anything, herself as opposed to having help. And then all of a sudden this spring these changes began to multiply and accelerate, obliterating the idea we had of our daughter right in front of us. She stopped wanting to hold our hand, she no longer accepted the word "no" as a response to a desire on her part, she discovered the power of a good old-fashioned tantrum and she demanded more and more "alone time." It was shocking to say the least. It's not easy to go almost a year living with someone only to discover that they are in fact to not at all who you thought they were.
And yet as her personality begins to shape itself more and as she blossoms as a person before our eyes every day I find myself more readily letting go of my, let's be honest, silly, ideas of my daughter and falling madly and deeply in love with this incredibly unique and special person. Yes, she may not be who I expected her to be. Yes, she has traits in her that befuddle both papa bear and me since they seem to be coming neither from his or my personality. Yes, certain aspects of her personality make her more difficult to control. But this same personality brings me so much joy as well. In a way I have already began to let her go as I can see that from the day she was born she was never meant to be ours. She is a free spirit and an "independent woman" if I've ever seen one. She makes friends easily and with just about anyone and although it may sound preposterous she already commands the attention of any room she enters, filling it with so much energy and exuberance.
Falling in love with papa bear was such a magical, transcendental experience and one that I knew I could never experience again. We often talk with fondness of that time period and the way we would give anything to go back in time and be that intoxicated with love again. And yet, here I am getting such a priceless gift bestowed upon me twice! Because falling in love with the person that my daughter is has changed my life. The amount of love I have for her and the way it grows every day frightens me sometimes. At times I feel like that needy teenage girlfriend around her "Are we moving too fast???" or "I'm sorry I don't give you enough space..." I feel like I'm always "calling" and "texting" her too often... I simply can't get enough. I love all the parts of her, even the ones that make something like a trip to the grocery store not an easy task. Because they all are housed within this tiny human that stole my heart completely in a way that I never expected.
I feel that when you first give birth to your child as a woman you inevitably feel some sort of possessiveness over them. They belong to you. You carried them in you. You brought them into this world. And yet as they begin to shed their dependence on you and reveal more of themselves to you, you realize just how little ownership you really have over them. This is a human being with his or her own spirit, soul and mind. It is our privilege to watch them evolve and bloom. I only hope and pray that God grants me the wisdom to preserve her beautiful spirit but also guide her character and help her build and shape it over the years to be something that feels authentic to her.

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