When Frank was born, they placed him in my arms and my first thought at that moment was “Of course this is you. I’ve known you already.”
When Molly was born, they placed her in my arms and my first thought at that moment was “Here we go…..”
From the moment I met her I recognized her as a challenging creature who would keep me in motion and always on the tips of my toes. She is the picture next to the quote “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” She is the whole definition of spitfire.
When I was good and consistent at running, I could recognize that the effort of the run, the time it took to get changed, to make sure the kids were watched, the stretching, setting my music up and then heading out onto uneven pavement, keeping focused because at any minute those broken sidewalks could catch my shoetip and send me sprawling on my face in front of main street traffic, the burn in my lungs and the stink of the sweat, ache of the muscles and the pain in my knees, it was worth everything. When I accomplished my goals, crossed finish lines and knew that I had put in the time to see that achievement, you couldn’t have paid me to have given up all the time I put in to that moment.
Molly makes me a runner, as a mom. I have to focus with her or I will trip up. She is ever vigilant, listening to my words and valuing them, but also frequently questioning them to value herself. There are no casual brush off replies with her, no “sure, later we can” or “I’ll think about that” unless you are prepared to make good on it. Conversation with her is every bit a mental exercise as p90x.
She is a social butterfly in a way I never felt I was. I had friends every where I went, made early connections easily and found friendly faces at every campsite my family visited. But Molly, friends find her. She has always had a charisma that has drawn people to her, not children, people, from the oldest to the youngest, to Molly they come.
It is not lost on me that my child who has the most potential to face social battles, those which I personally find the most difficult, has asked Jesus to be in charge of her. I did not push it. I did not suggest it. I did expose her to my faith, as any parent does. She called me in one evening and said “Mom, I want Jesus to be in charge of me.” She asked if I would help her do that and I sat there, a little perplexed. I didn’t want to push a child into faith or make the decision for them. I didn’t want her to ever look back and say “My mom told me what to say,” and so finally I asked her “Well, why don’t you just start with Dear Jesus, and then tell him whatever you want to tell him?” She folded her little hands on her bed and rested her head on them. “Dear Jesus,” she began “I want you to be in charge of me. I want you to be my boss, you and Mommy and Daddy. I want to have you in my heart.”
She has traveled the world of kindergarten with success. She does well academically and from all reports is a good listener and a hard worker. She seems well liked and likes many children. However where before she found that pretty much everyone just fell at her feet in adoration, she has now met a range of kids, kids who are too quiet to connect with easily, children for whom English is their second language and who seek out other children with whom they share a native tongue, children who really like her, but she isn’t sure about and children who occasionally aren’t the nicest. She has entered the tricky space of girl world and this has been one of the biggest challenges of my motherhood.
I can help her learn to read or learn a new skill. I can encourage her to occupy her time with good choices. Those moments, though, when I tuck her in and ask her for her happiest moment of the day, and she tells me that someone made her sad today, I feel like I’m on the swing next to her with no advice except that maybe we could go hide together under the play castle and cry about it. There has been nothing in my life so apt to throw me straight back into the social insecurity of girl world that I grew up with, than knowing the right advice or answer to her problem, but feeling that mama bear urge to stomp right down to the playground and tell everyone to just be decent little humans.
A few weeks ago, Molly came home and told me that she had been excluded from play by some friends and that one of them had threatened to get her in trouble with the principal. I’d been there. In kindergarten I was subject to a little girl who told me I had to hand over my nice pointy tipped crayons or else she would tell her mom, and her mom was a police officer and she would arrest me. I had no defense against that authority. I would have to choose between giving my best crayons over or resign myself to a life in prison. I could almost feel those crayons back in my hands and the urge to tell Molly just how 5 year old Sarah felt about all of that. I swallowed as hard as I could and said “I am so sorry that happened to you. That sounds really awful. What did you do?”
Molly lifted her chin and her eyes to mine and said “I went and played kitty and doggy with other people.” She told the story of how she’d walked away from the situation, and felt badly for a minute, but she spotted other friends, went over and convinced them to play the game she wanted to play. 5 year old Sarah peeked out from under the tire tunnel at Molly and wished so very hard that she had an ounce of whatever it was that enabled her not to close in on herself and to just find another way to be happy. 35 year old Sarah picked her jaw off the floor and said “Well, I’m sorry you had to deal with that first stuff, but I want you to know how very proud of you I am that you didn’t go hide and cry or let it ruin your whole recess, that you found other friends and had a good time.” She smiled and said “Yeah, I just played and had a good time anyway.”
I know she will be alright. She is little, but man oh man, how she is fierce.
That’s not to say she’s always the victor or the savior in stories. Just this very morning we had to revisit that situation and talk about how she remembers how that made her feel and if she sees that being done to someone else and doesn’t speak up for them, she’s doing that to them, too. I have scripted with her ways to manage those situations, being kind to the person left out and being kind to the person who is trying to be in control. It is a learning process, it is growing time, but time after time I have seen Molly lace up her shoes, stretch and take off running. I have no doubt that with her dedication and the grace of God, my Molly will always be fierce.
I so, so adore her and enjoy the effort of the exercise that is parenting her.