To the Peanut on her second birthday

Dear Peanut,

I am having trouble believing that it has been two years since we got our first glimpse at your peach-fuzz covered head. It just doesn’t seem that long. At the same time I am having trouble believing that it has only been two years since you got here. It seems like you have been with us forever. I guess that’s what happens when people belong with you. They just fit.

Sometimes, like after your bath, when you insist on sitting in my lap all wrapped up in a towel and have me rub it close to you, that you are simply my baby, cuddle loving as always. The second before I blink I can see the baby that you were in your face. Sometimes when you are careening through the yard, you turn around just long enough to make sure I know where you are headed, and I am sure I see the 16-year-old you will become, standing right there in her homecoming dress asking me for the car keys. You my dear, are who you are.  I admire you for it.

A few months back the woman who I have come to think of as your unofficial God-mother told me that she noticed how much more I dance since you have come along. Mulling that over I thought of the line from that song we sing in church (the one from the Psalms), “You turn all my mourning in to dancing.” I remembered how I cried out to God after the ultrasound that revealed you were one girl. I was so hurt and confused. How could he tell me one thing and give me another? Where were those twin boys? Why would God do that? I mourned for the loss of the family I had pictured, I mourned for the boys I was expecting, for my own pride and the way it was “supposed to go” and God in His infinite wisdom gave me you.  I dance, with you, for you, to get you to dance, because you invite me to dance with you. God did turn my mourning into dancing, He did that through you. Your dancing has become contagious in our house. I dance at work when good things happen, I dance at the grocery store when we find a fifty percent off sticker. We dance because we can, because it is an outward expression of our joy. We dance because it is fun. I dance because of you.

I look at you and am reminded that my worrying is futile. Your peach fuzz has turned into a mass of red ringlets, you walk and run just fine, you adore your life as a big sister, you (mostly) sleep through the night. You do all those things I feared you would never do and so much more. You bring joy; you carry it on you like a natural perfume. Your natural tendency is to yell and laugh and clap in delight. It brings those around you joy too.

There is so much I want for you, such big dreams I have for you. But I am learning to let that be between you and your God. I am trying to be a woman who lets God do big things through her, who knows when to step up and when to get out of the way. It is my greatest hope, that you would follow hard after Jesus. May you learn to love Him, to dance for Him, to dance with Him. His plans for you are extraordinary, and I am so blessed to watch them play out.

I love you!

Mom

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The Younger Siblings Baby Book

The best way for me to describe my relationship with my sisters while growing up is this story. In pre-school we were talking about heroes or bravery or something. Anyway, I told my teacher about how brave my sister Jill was, that she stuck her fork into the toaster in order to rescue my breakfast from the malfunctioning button that was holding my bread hostage and burning it. My teacher, (being a responsible professional) told me that this was very dangerous and no one should ever shove a metal fork into a plugged-in toaster, especially one that was turned on. In my four-year-old brain this teacher was a complete idiot. She missed the whole point of how extraordinarily brave my older sister was, and did not understand that my sister was clearly invincible. I never saw her in the same light, she was a moron for the rest of the year.

There are unique situations that only apply, if you are the little sibling. The Rooster has a whole list of firsts the Peanut never had.

The first time you and your sister meet.

The first time your sister and you wear matching outfits and everyone thinks you are ao cute.

The first time your sister hits you.

The first time she scratches you.

The first time your sister leaves a mark.

The first time your sister hits/kicks/scratches/ you because she is really just mad at your mother and she knows this will make her mad.

The first time your eyes light up and you kick your little feet because you see your sister.

The first time your sister lies about you. (Ouch, Rilla pushin’ me out of the back seat of the car when both of you are strapped firmly into your respective car seats.)

The first time you pull her hair.

The first time she shares her food with you.

The first time you get to have a present strictly as your own, rather than sharing it with your sister becuase she wants it (sorry about your christmas presents this year, you can have them back when you are mobile enough to go get them).

The first time you sneak into her space and play with or wear the things she told you not to, just because you can (this will likely happen when she is at school and you are not).

The first time you miss each other.

The first night you share a room.

The first time you refuse to wear matching outfits with your sister (note this has still not happened with me and your Aunts. We still would wear matching outfits.)

The first time you are in cahoots with your sister behind your mom’s back.

I hope you two like having sisters as much as I do!

So commenters, this list is not complete! What did I miss?

Biggest Critic. Biggest Fan

I remember when I was too sick, or maybe too sick of being sick, to get up off the couch. I remember my sister, the one who had not yet left for college, coming home to her sister laying on the couch…..again….and yelling at me to get up. Get up, go to school, do something. My illness had not just infiltrated my body. It had infiltrated our entire family. She wanted it, needed it, gone.

Later, in high school, I remember going to her best friends house to get ready for homecoming, my first high school dance. Though she does not remember saying it, I remember her saying that I wore too much make up. Easy to say I suppose, when you get elected prom queen in nothing but lipgloss. Later, she would ask me for make up tips, and I would be vindicated.

I remember her critiques on my outfits and my boyfriends. She was always right about the latter. Some weren’t good enough for me, some did hurt me, some were jerks.

I remember my freshman year when I did not make the musical. To my face she told me that it happened sometimes to freshman, I would just have to wait my turn. To her friends she complained that the freshman girls who did make it were not nearly as talented as her sister. I heard her. I was probably listenting in on her phone call.

Now, Jill is not so quick to criticize. She is the one who tells me “You can’t talk about my sister like that.” She is the biggest fan of this blog. She shares every post and emails some to her friends. She tells me that I write well, that sometimes, when I get it right, she can see Jesus in here. She took me to see her writer friend because she believes, more deeply than I that someone will like this enough to publish it.

I know now what I didn’t know then. That the criticism was coming from a place that screamed both “You can do better” and “You are already enough.” She was critical because she knew I was better than that. She was critical because she wasn’t going to let anyone, including myself, sell me short.

It is this relationship that reminds me, when I hear the Spirit convict me. That God is telling me to change because He loves me deeply. He wants great things for me. He will not let me sell myself short.

Sisterhood of the traveling….sisterhood

This past weekend Jill moved into my neighborhood! Her and Calvin closed on a sweet house with a seriously sweet price in a great little neighborhood ( I may be partial…) YEAH! We are super excited to have her and she has promised not to move again in a year and a half and I have promised to not be eight months pregnant if she does move in a year and a half (please Lord!). Jill and Calvin moved to Atlanta about a month before I was due with the Peanut.

The interesting thing to first, Jill moving to Atlanta, and second, my serious joy that she lives 1.4 miles from my home is there was a time growing up where this did not seem likely. We couldn’t be in the same 170  person marching band marching in completely different sections that never actually had to talk to each other and not have a couple of yelling matches (two that I recall).

Recently I read a line about mother hood. This mom was lamenting the fact that her family was done growing, and she remained daughterless. She described the mother daughter relationship as uniquely complicated. I was taken off guard. I don’t think of my relationship with my mom as complicated. Maybe I am just part of a ridiculously lucky minority, but I just hope I can do as good of a job as she did.  I always felt (and still feel) loved and accepted. I know my mom is always rooting for me. There were no big battles to allow me my adulthood. It just was.

But sisters. Those were complicated for me. I wanted to be just like my sisters and at the exact same time completely different. I sometimes resented being “The third France” but know I would have been heart broken had I not been linked to the previous two.

I find myself thinking about sisters a lot lately. I am about to have a pair of them in my home after all. I find myself fretting over what to buy new just for the new baby and what is it okay to share? I want to make sure that the little one knows she was wanted and special and got everything her sister did. I want the big one to know she is wanted and special and not being replaced. And I want them to share well. And each have special things to pass down to their daughters but still have enough that mostly belongs to everybody.

I think I am trying too hard to control the stuff because it is the only thing I can control. I cannot control the Peanut’s reaction to her sister, or the temperament of the new baby. I cannot control the ways they will inevitably attempt to torture each other or the hurt they may inflict. I cannot control whether or not they will think of each other as their best friends as adults, like I think of my sisters, but I can hope. And I do.

I sometimes worry that I will put too much pressure on them, to be best of friends from day one. I need to remember it takes time. I didn’t even choose my own sisters as my maids of honor (though I regret that now) that somewhere along the way push came to shove and it occurred to me that the people who understand me best are the ones who were raised in the same house as me. God built in my adult best friends, it is an amazing gift. I pray that the same will be true for my girls.