There are several descriptors that fit my little girl’s personality. Firecracker. A force. Stubborn. She loves fiercely, makes decisions without stewing, and is not fond of limits (send help lol). She is a go-getter, while also carefully calculating her options. When something is bothering her, I watch her wheels spin as she figures out how to cope. At night, if she is nervous about falling asleep alone, she will ask me to sit on her floor “for a little bit.” When she feels herself fading to dreamland, she whispers, “Okay, you can go mommy.” I am in awe of how she is already in tune with her own needs and is able to clearly communicate them to me.
Even when she is unsure of an answer (what color is that? what sound does this animal make?) she simply says “I don’t know” without shame or anxiety. I am grateful she appears to be able to accept things she may not know without internalizing it as a failure. Sounds pretty deep for a 2.5 year old’s response to a question about a color or an animal, right?? But as her mother, I am working extra hard to maintain that characteristic in her. As she grows and life becomes more complicated, this approach will see her through countless obstacles. The fact that it comes natural to her is so comforting to me, because it personally takes effort for me to let things go.
In saying that, FEARLESS is the word that best represents her entire being. She will try anything at least once, pet any dog of any size, and speak to anyone she chooses. Conversely, she is not afraid to NOT talk to people, to say no, or to refuse to participate in what everyone else is doing. She has no worries about what she may or may not be missing. When her mind is made up, there’s no changing it.
As a mom, I find it difficult to not compare the differences between my kids. My son definitely inherited my worry trait. I have to actively remind him that it’s okay to mess up, etc (as I simultaneously tell myself ), so it is interesting to sit back and watch her go. She also transfers her confidence to her big brother. She asks him for help if she can’t reach something, but he will ask her to walk with him to the bedroom when the hallway is dark. There is a sureness about her that bubbles over onto everyone else around her.
On the other hand, she is extremely dependent on her big brother. I feel that much of her confidence comes from knowing he is there for her. I can attest to this, being a younger sibling. The daring ways of younger children are often marveled at, but “we” often feel that freedom to push the envelope because we have the security of knowing our older brothers/sisters have our backs no matter what. I have a similar view of my older sister, so it is quite amazing to now see these dynamics from a maternal perspective.
To raise children is to hold a mirror directly in front of your face, as kids have a way of bringing all your strengths and insecurities to the forefront. So I am being as honest with them as I possibly can, in hopes that they don’t feel they need to be perfect or flawless. It is okay to make mistakes, but always try your best. I amaze myself at how much I preach that to them, but I can beat myself up over the smallest mistake. They are watching, and that self-berating is not a trait I want for them. They learn from me, and I learn from them.
So the next time I marvel at her fearlessness, I’ll remember that I have played a part in it. That the little eyes watching me see no wrong. That although I doubt myself, I always take the next step forward. She feels free to be bold because we have provided her with security and encouraged confidence. My son feels free to express his concerns because he knows he has our support and guidance. Neither one is better or worse. Our tiny humans are learning to navigate the world just as we are. I’m thankful to be the roadmap, forks and all.