A Particular Joy.
I was raised in a family of girls, so when I started my own family and one boy came and then another, I loved it. It was different. It was rough and tumble. It was wild rumpus 24/7. Okay… well there was a little sleep in there, but mostly wild rumpus. It was matchbox cars and baseball cards. It was frog-hunting and paintball. Basketball and baseball. Lots of baseball. It was make-believe where I, of course, was the princess of the castle. I loved being the princess.
When our third child was on the way, I was sure it would be a boy, and I was absolutely okay with that. We were totally into the boy thing. We had the toys and we had the clothes all ready to hand down.
But then a real princess came.
My third child–a daughter. She entered the world large and in charge! Physically she was the smallest of my three, but no question she was in charge–almost from day one. Hey, someone has to lead the troops!
All of the sudden, there was a lot of pink in my world. In some circles, to speak of colors and toys identifying one gender or another is considered sexist and certainly politically incorrect. Well then wrap me up in pink tulle and call me guilty!
Like I said. So much pink. And it was glorious.
Baby dolls took their places in the toy box right alongside the dump trucks.
There were hair bows the size of Texas. Baby dolls and a special little bunny. And oh the Beanie Babies. There were Keds in every possible color. There were painted fingernails. There were tea parties and dress-up parties. There was hula-hoop and jump rope. There were matching pajamas. And when we pretended, I was no longer the princess. I was the grandma and my little girl was the mommy. Me the grandma at age 34.
Then I blinked.
All of the sudden I’m driving into the city for a girl’s day with that baby girl. She has a calendar full of work, rehearsals, hang-outs with friends and gigs, so it takes some going back and forth to find a time that works for both of us. (Although truth be told, I would rearrange most anything when she gives me the green light).
When we meet, she drives up in her little olive green KIA…the first car she’s paid for by herself. She gets out of the car smiling and looking so beautiful in worn jeans and boots with that head of thick strawberry blonde hair, those big blue eyes and that smile that is sunshine to me.
She knows all the coolest restaurants since she’s lived in the city for almost seven years now, so she takes me to one of her favorites and we talk about all kinds of things. Food. Travel. Work. Music. Church. Boys. Friends.
I don’t want the lunch to end. I just want to soak a little bit longer in who she is–this person who is at once both known and unknown to me. With layer upon lovely layer of goodness and beautiful imperfection.
That’s my girl.
This strong, independent young woman has confidently navigated faraway places–many times going it alone. She is fearless–fearless I tell you. A far cry from the little girl who would drag her sleeping bag into our bedroom OFTEN and sleep on the hard floor all night because she was afraid of “bad guys”. Fearful to fearless in about a decade and a half. Amazing.
This girl. She can problem solve on the fly when things go haywire. She can reason with herself when she finds herself in a less-than-desirable situation–let’s say… oh I don’t know…maybe on a dairy farm in Sweden. I’ll stop there, since it really isn’t my story to tell! She is unafraid to take a go at life in the manner she chooses and feels called to. She is unapologetic in pursuing her dreams and her hunger for adventure. She is at one moment fully dreamer and in the next fully realist. She is smart–always absorbing new things. She is a God-seeker.
She is kind. She is caring. She always thinks of herself very last. She loves her people and is as loyal as the day is long. If she knows you for half a second you will become “her people”. She is tender-hearted and an extender of grace. This I know firsthand. She likes to laugh. She’s super funny with those she knows well, but quietly feels her way around when she’s in a new group. Sometimes she’s a mystery. Sometimes she procrastinates. She isn’t overly emotional and she rarely entertains drama. She never needs to be the center of attention, ironic as that seems since her work lands her on stage on a regular basis. She’s at her best one-on-one. And on this day, I am the lucky “one”.
So as I look across the table at this dear one, who is and isn’t mine, I am so thankful she came into my life in a whirlwind of pink exactly twenty-five years to the day.
I love her soul and her spirit and her belief. Best, though, I love her heart. Anyone who has even a tiny piece of it is better for it.
She is the loveliest song I know….a melody that is familiar one second and in the next, brand new.
She is my girl.
“The particular joy in my heart,
she cannot imagine”
(from “A Newborn Girl at Passover” by Nan Cohen.