"I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose would be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage." - Anne Shirley
The other day Amelie had an emotional melt down, crying over the fact that her heart "gets mean" sometimes. I cry every time I think of it. My precious girl. Sweet Amelie. I told Josh that it seems like her bitty heart breaks every day.
She feels so deeply and is constantly verbalizing her emotions and she is so discerning as she tries to make sense of things in her little world. I completely understand.
Despite blaring similarities, I’ve learned to be careful not to pigeon hole our daughters and make them out to be tiny versions of ourselves. No matter how much they appear like us, they are truly their own little people, and I know this.
Nevertheless, when Sera came into the world it was like meeting 7 pounds of Josh.
As a newborn. And a girl.
She continues to look like, act like, research, investigate, and analyze like her father. That tall, broad shouldered, science loving girl is so much Oakes.
And the short, introspective, passionate child whose photos are almost indiscernible from my own? Well, it's not hard to see she belongs to me.
Sera and I get a long easily, mostly because we're so different. Seeing Josh's personality, characteristics, mannerisms, and even faults in my quirky little girl has given me a greater understanding for him. She can be unintentionally offensive with her logic and knowledge.
The other day I watched Sera and Amelie in the rear view mirror like I was watching Josh and myself on a movie screen. The scene went something like this:
Sera: I’m in 2nd grade, next year I’ll be in 3rd...but you’re not in a grade yet.
Amelie: YES I AM IN A GRADE! I’M IN KINDERGARTEN!
Sera: (Calmly, rationally) No you’re not. Kindergarten isn’t a grade.
Amelie: (By this time her lip is quivering) YES it is. Kindergarten IS A GRADE.
Sera: Well I mean it’s not a number. You’re not in a number yet.
Amelie: (Full blown crying to me) YOU’RE HURTING MY FEELINGS!!! MAMA! Sera is being SO mean to me, she’s SO MEAN and she doesn't love her SISTER!! (Scream-sobbing with her tiny hands covering both eyes)
Sera: (Confused, with hands in the air in exasperation) But she’s not in a grade yet-- She’s not in a number! I’m just saying she’s not in a number yet!
It was hard to suppress my snicker. There was Sera: logical, literal, unaware that her words were crushing her sister.There was Amelie: falling apart at the first (perceived) hint of criticism.
Um. Hello Josh. Hello Flo.
Again, I'm not saying they are our clones, but in that moment there was something remarkably familiar. Not more than 12 hours previously the same scenario played out, but between two wiser (maybe) and more rational (maybe not) adults. Josh said something truthful, but without thinking of how it would fall on the ears of the recipient. l, the recipient, got a few words into my response before my lip started quivering.
A lot of the things I have no patience for in a grown man I have abundant patience--even feelings of endearment--for in my child. However, in that moment I didn’t laugh or think it was cute that Josh was unintentionally offensive with his logic or knowledge. I was just mad, sad, and hurt. But watching the scene in my children helped me to understand my husband and myself so much better.
As I make the connection, I think to myself, "Oh Amelie. I’m so sorry. I hope you didn’t inherit ALL of my crazy."
As soon as the thought crosses my mind I see the fallacy.
She is not crazy.
Dramatic? Well, maybe, sometimes. Passionate? Yes. Sensitive? Yes. Ridiculously hilarious, animated...loving? Yes, yes, and GOODNESS yes. Crazy?
And if anyone said so, mama bear would punch them in the face.
When I watch Amelie’s heart love and feel and break, it makes me want to scoop her up in my arms and tell her that she's all of those other lovely things.
I’ve been trying to allow Josh the same grace I allow Sera.
Maybe I should allow myself that same grace.
When we name ourselves crazy, or stubborn, or strong willed, or perfectionist, or high strung, it is hard not to see ugly. I don't believe I'm ugly. I believe I'm made in the image of God.
Sure, a lot of those traits can warp and manifest in negative ways, but they began as gifts--the tools we have been given to navigate our world, and the components who make us who we are.
My hope as a parent, is that I will be able to stand (mostly) out of the way and help Amelie channel those qualities positively.
Maybe that starts with renaming all of the things we find wrong with ourselves...and our children:
Perfectionism is diligence.
Stubbornness is determination.
Sensitivity is tender-heartedness.
What I learned in an afternoon researching personality types, is just how many interesting people share my-so-called "negative" traits. Writers, musicians, theologians... Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela.
"Crazy" is beautiful...and it changes the world.
*Not actual results, but my interpretation of the word "inconclusive" ;)