Last week Juliana turned six. I'm not sure how that happened. I spent three years struggling with infertility before I got pregnant with David and when Juliana was born, it took many, many months for the reality of her to sink in. Sometimes a wave of infertility anxiety would wash over me and I'd have to stop myself and breathe and realize that not only had I conceived a second time, I'd carried that pregnancy to term and was now in possession of a baby GIRL, of all things. Could God have been any kinder to me? The infertility sucked and the PPD following Juliana's birth put a quick stop to any further child-bearing, but between those lousy bookends, I had been granted two perfect, healthy children: a boy and a girl.
Maybe I'm the only one who does this, but when I think of my children, they are locked into certain ages. With David, my mind goes straight to when he was two. I was newly pregnant with Juliana and he and I were savoring our last months of togetherness. This was when we lived in North Carolina and every day was spent with friends from our playgroup or at the play structure at Sonic (Juliana was nourished in the womb with many a tater tot and cherry limeade). With Juliana, she is eternally 3 1/2. David was in school full day at that point and with rare exception, she was my constant companion. Every errand, every meal cooked, every cleaning task, we did as a team. She liked nothing better than a spray bottle of 409 and a rag so that we could be Cinderellas together.
Now, I'm not one of those moms who cherishes every moment spent with my children. There were many days that I would've signed her up for Boarding Preschool. There were days when I couldn't get her off my body and days when she refused to let anybody but me help her with things or even respond to things she said. That relentlessness of need wore me down. I had mental visions of her head and metal poles that I am not proud of. But somewhere along the line, I was able to make a shift in my thinking. I finally realized that nobody--NOBODY--had or would ever love me the way that child did.
When David turned five, I had a rough time of it. He was ready to start Kindergarten and the thought kept occurring to me that I was now obsolete. I'd put in my 5 years of raising him and now it was time to turn him over to society. He seemed so grown up to me. With this second child, my filter is completely different. She's still so little. The expectations I had for David seem ridiculous to me when I look at her. (I have a friend who says that first-borns are "practice children". The overflowing therapy jar I have for David bears out the the truth in this.)
So, now she is six and I am heartened by the fact that she is not too cool to sit in a laundry basket, surrounded by her Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals, pretending to sail down a river. (And to the two little girls in her class who told her she had chosen "a baby book" when she got a Pooh book at the school library: I will kick your little smart-mouthed asses and not feel an ounce of remorse in doing so.) It warms my heart that she will still put on a purple tutu, beaded crown, and wings and make up a fairy song that goes like this:
Some people are born from the sun
But I am born from a flower
My name is Buttercup because I was born from a buttercup
Your name is Blossom because you just blossomed from a flower
And now it's time for me to grow wings
And now it's time for me to fly
I just make a little wish to my wings inside my head
And now I am off flying.
Happy Birthday, little girl. Know you can always fly back to me no matter how old you are.