8

Raising Different Daughters

Sometimes I like to take a break from cooking to write about my experience as a mom, so please indulge me once again. I have three daughters. Each one of my girls is distinctly different, and I find that pretty awesome. My oldest is creative and artistic. She is demanding and particular. She is brave and determined. My youngest is happy and loving. She is silly and smart. She is a compassionate friend and a typical little sister. I adore this picture because I believe that it is the perfect embodiment of their individual personalities.

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But I have another daughter, my middle. She has the sweetest soul. She cares deeply, and takes things to heart. She wounds easily, yet heals quickly, and forgives completely. I am frequently in awe of her compassion. So, it comes as no surprise that she caught my attention this week with her concern for those around her. Monday was Martin Luther King Day. Her teacher has been educating the class this week about the work of Dr. King and the struggles that many Americans face. My middle, of course, took this to heart. She came to me right away, knowing that I teach a civil rights unit. She wanted to know more. She wanted to understand and see what strife others faced. Tonight she won my heart, yet again, when she settled in with my work computer to watch a Discovery Channel documentary that I use in my own teaching. She was mesmerized. She asked questions and marked chapters that she wanted her class to see and understand.

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As a mom, I felt so proud, and it occurred to me that I need to be deliberate in how I cultivate these personality traits in my children, to ensure that they continue into adulthood. I need to remind myself what really matters when I measure my daughters. It’s not the quantity of accolades, but, to quote Dr. King, it’s “the content of their character”. I once read a parenting book that warned parents to be careful of the traits they break down in their children, because they are usually the traits we want them to have as adults. I plan to really take inventory of my daughters and look for the traits that will empower them. My oldest may drive me crazy with her determination, but that is exactly what she is going to need to persevere when the path is rough. My little may be silly, but that sense of humor is what will keep her balanced when the path is rigorous and dull. My middle may be sensitive, but that is what she will need to spread kindness and compassion when the path is dark.

I have no doubt that my girls will find success in life, and it sure is fun to watch them learn and evolve into their own kind of person. I think it is cool that they can grow up in the same house, with the same parents, yet become such unique individuals. I am reminded to cherish what really matters in life, raising good people. That is my job as a mom. I will try my hardest everyday to teach them and encourage them to be true to themselves and kind to others.

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13

The Power of 4

Normally I would be writing about food, entertaining, and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, but tonight, my heart is somewhere else. I don’t feel like posting a recipe, or tips on how to brine an absurdly large turkey; I just want to write about being a mom.

Tonight, as I tucked my youngest into bed, we said goodbye to 4. This is significant for me, because this year has been my most favorite year as a mom. While all three of my kids have very unique personalities, and each child fills a specific purpose in my life, I feel that this was the year of my youngest daughter, Adeline.

My oldest daughter, Olivia, is my growth. She has a determined spirit, and she does not give up easily. Being the oldest, she is where I learned to be a mom, and she is the one that challenges me. She pushes me to look at things in a different way, she challenges me to accept differences, and she encourages me to be the best mom that I can. Without her, I would not grow.

My second daughter, Amelia, is my laughter. She has the sweetest soul, and the most contagious laughter. You can’t help but be happy around her. She reminds me of all that is good in life. She snuggles affectionately, and loves unconditionally. She teaches me daily about forgiveness and reminds me just how fragile little hearts can be. Without her, I would not love as deeply.

And my youngest, Adeline, is my balance. She has an old soul. She seems to understand well beyond her years, yet she has a spunky, sassy personality that is addictive. Adeline is the one that keeps me on my toes with her curiosity, but also touches my heart daily. She is affectionate and insightful, and it is this year, the year of 4, that I will hold onto forever in my heart.

I cannot pinpoint exactly what made 4 so great. Maybe it is how she senses when I am stressed, and crawls up in my lap to hug me and just say, “I love you, mama!” Or the maturity she displays when she picks up her toys without complaint, avoiding a mommy meltdown. Perhaps, it is how she swells with pride at her own accomplishments. She melts my heart, and the hearts of her sisters, too. Even they see that she has a special little soul. Adeline is a gift to our family, and we would not be complete without her. I have to believe it is a blend of all of these behaviors wrapped up in the cutest little package that has made this a remarkable year.

Either way, I feel very sad to say goodbye to 4. I know that she will not be any different when she wakes up in the morning, and that she will still “Houdini” her little body into my bed around 7am, wrap her arms around me, and beg me not to go to work, but I see this birthday as a concrete marker of time passing. It is a reminder to me just how fast the journey goes.

So, as we say goodbye to 4, and we happily welcome 5, I will remember to absorb every moment. For I fear that it won’t be long before she is too big to do many of the things that make me feel love to the depths of my core! To me, this particular Thanksgiving is not about flavors and food, it is about savoring the moments and people in life that truly make me thankful.