Don't get me wrong. All the things that drive me crazy about her are all the things I love about her. I will never forget the day when some bullies on the playground were trying to keep kids from going down the slide. Her big brother walked away in tears.
She simply glared at them and then pushed past them to go down the slide. I think she was 3 at the time.
They didn't mess with her after that.
Anyway, she is the oldest girl, so she often takes on the mother role for her two little sisters, and it's easy for her to get lost in the mix, and look for attention in all the wrong ways, which is why I was glad we had this time together.
We started our morning with crafts at a mother/daughter activity at church and then we went shopping, both activities that we both really enjoy. After shopping, we went out for an ice cream treat at McDonald's.
We were sitting in the solarium-type part of the restaurant, right by the window. She was chattering away about something and the sun was hitting her hair just right and her eyes were all blue and sparkly and I just began to feel overwhelmed by how amazing and special she was to me.
All the things I felt about her were running through my mind, and I thought:
I should tell her these things.
But when I tried to form the words in my mind they just sounded cheesy and contrived. Who just comes out and says, "You know, I think you're really special"?
I have never, ever thought of myself as someone who couldn't express feelings. In fact, I've always thought that sometimes I share a little too much information. But sitting there, in front of my precious 8-year-old daughter, it became painfully clear to me that it was hard for me to say how I felt. I felt self-conscious.
Yes, in front of an 8-year-old.
Fortunately, that wonderful influence of the Holy Ghost (that I think sometimes moms get an extra portion of) began to work on me. God said, She's 8. She doesn't know it sounds cheesy and contrived. These are things she needs to hear. If you don't tell her now, how will she know how you feel?
I fought it. It felt icky.
It feels icky? For real? That's your excuse for not giving your daughter one of the most precious and valuable gifts she could ever receive, the gift of knowing her mother loves and respects her? It feels ICKY? Do you REMEMBER childbirth?
So I did. I told her how special I think she is. I told her that I trust her more than the other kids with things, she has a sense of maturity about her that I respect, that she has a way with younger kids. We talked about her little sister and I confided in her that I didn't treat my little sister very well and I grew up feeling terribly about it and I don't want her to feel that way. I told her that she's a good person, a kind person. Her sister loves her and looks up to her, and so do I.
And when I said it, it didn't sound cheesy or contrived. And her eyes sparkled even more, she sat a little taller, she held her chin higher.
The moral of the story is this: Don't wait to say the things in your heart because you're afraid of how you might sound. How you sound isn't important. The words you say and the feeling behind them is what they'll hear. If you open your heart, they'll open theirs.
If you can't trust yourself with your own feelings, how can your child trust you with theirs?
Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You'd better know that in the end
Its better to say too much
Then never say what you need to say again
Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open
Say what you need to say.
Say what you need to say.
P.S. Happy St. Patty’s Day to you!