As I write this my daughter, Allie Rose, is curled up in a tight ball on the love seat within view, exhausted from an early morning battle with a stomach bug that began just after 3 a.m. As is the usual lament of a mother, “I hate seeing my child sick.”
She is my miracle baby. She is the one who defied destiny and persevered through pregnancy, after two previous failed attempts. She is the baby sister my son got after he prayed for a puppy. She is the one who had me off my feet and in bed the last month of my pregnancy, who hiccupped through hours of monitoring tests, ruining the results and causing me to return time and again before the doctors finally induced me into labor.
Once she decided, “Okay it’s time,” she slipped into the world with three easy pushes. I remember looking at her alabaster face, with her bright red rosebud lips and weeping and laughing at the same time, so overwhelmed with holding my healthy baby girl.
From the moment of her premature birth, Allie Rose was nothing like her brother, Anthony, who was content staying in that cozy little womb of mine for two weeks after his due date. Although she did not speak until after she was a year old, she was very determined to have her needs understood and met. And when she did finally speak, it was a sentence, not a baby sound. No. It was an order. And if her orders were not met, she embraced that old adage, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”
And that was when I realized that naming her after Alexander the Great might not have been such a good idea.
Where Anthony would ask for milk, then wait patiently until I got it, Allie Rose would ask, and if I did not immediately serve Her Highness, I would usually find her hanging on the refrigerator door, attempting to get it herself. She was such a peanut she couldn’t even open the refrigerator. I doubt she ever thought about how she would actually pour a gallon of milk into her bottle by herself. You don’t think of those things at two, do you?
Recently we flipped through her baby book, and when she got to the older age pages she noticed more and more gaps. When I suggested to leave it be and I would fill it in, she shook her head and grabbed a pen and told me that it was okay, she would do it.
For a while we were worried she was going to be a clone of Anthony, as she idolizes every move he makes. While most brothers would tire of it, Anthony idolizes her in return, protecting and defending her against everyone, including herself sometimes. But lately she is becoming her own person. She likes her own music, her own favorite subjects in school, has her own taste in foods and clothing. She is growing up before my eyes. There are not too many days left for her to cuddle on my lap. She’s almost as tall as I am. This realization that my baby is growing up has changed my whole perspective on things. I’ve got a girlfriend to do things with again; girly things like going shopping, baking or doing our nails or hair together.
Not waiting around for Allie Rose to catch up, Anthony has decided to grow up as well. He’s driving, applying for his first job, and contemplating which college he will attend after graduating in 2010.
And as I watch them both struggle with life’s changes, I wonder when I grew up. When did I become old enough to be a mom? I look back on life, on my journey, and understand even more how things constantly change and consistently stay the same, all at the same time.
As the snow melts and the earth warms slowly but surely, awakening with life again, I understand. Winter is fading and rebirth is all around us with the coming of Spring. Ostara, the Spring Equinox, reminds us that life sometimes rewards us with balance, a time of peace where we can regroup and plan for the coming days when the sun and earth will nourish all living things.
With each season there are rewards and hardships, and so too, this is true with life. But its embracing those rewards and hardships for what they are, and letting them go when you have learned from them, that makes this life worth living.
Now is the time to contemplate all we have, and it’s a time to be thankful, to prioritize and reflect on where we want to go in the future.
Most of all, its a time to remember that life is for living, so live it.