Meet Lucy. Trying to be grown-up-ish but still too young to avoid squinting in the sun, not yet vain enough to remove glasses when being photographed, half-laughing at her own attempt at a more mature pose. She's a baby. But. Nonetheless, there it is. Indisputably. Conspicuously. Irrevocably. My baby is growing up. I love it. But I hate it.
Lucy is my first, my 'original baby' as we put it in our house. The twins are copies, Lucy likes to say, of the real thing. I don't always disagree - at least about the real thing part. Lucy is it. All of it. She is, in fact, the reason, my husband and I became convinced just a year into parenting that we were born to make babies. The next year when we had three children in diapers we decided we were both born with brain damage and should never be allowed to make such critically important decisions again. We haven't since and I think we all agree its for the best.
I don't have the vocabulary to tell you how I feel about Lucy, because the words haven't been invented yet. So I'll use the meager contents of Webster's to try. Lucy is the beauty in beautiful and the wonder in wonderful. She is sweetness walking, all grace and glow. What I have in temper and tantrum, Lucy has in patience and forethought. When other moms come over with their small children, they happily hand them over to Lucy without batting an eye - even the hyper-neurotic ones (and I was one, so I can say that) feel perfectly confident with their children in Lucy's care. She is mature without being overbearing about it, and she is kind without being annoyingly so. She is playful and silly, and has an uncanny ear for accents and characters. She's not the kind of person who you would think could make you laugh, but she can - until you pee - because she's so damn funny. Her good friends now will be friends for life, because that is the kind of friend she is. Whatever God put into the sun and water to make it glisten, he put into Lucy. She is aptly named as she brightens every space she occupies, even when she's dark beyond reason.
I like to tell myself that some of her gifts are owed to our careful parenting and outstanding genetics. I'd actually like to take credit for the whole thing, but I took that bio class and I know about the DNA thing so I say 'our' but I mean 'my'. All of that is hogwash, of course, because the truth is that what Lucy has can only be received from a much higher place. In fact, when I'm in my right mind (stop it) I pray that she influences me more than I influence her because I think there's a cost benefit ratio there that works better if you switch the natural order.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll say that my chair-tipping, gum-smacking, back-talking, sass-a-frass of a tween has her moments. I particularly love when she uses my own vernacular against me, "Say 'swear to God'". Or slams me with my own logic, "why are you challenging me on that?" remembering stuff I don't remember saying, but sounding so much like me that I agree I must have said it and then reverse what I'm saying in the present to agree with what she says I said in the past. What's more, she sounds alot like me on the phone now too, lending an element of creepy to the whole thing. I'd be afraid if I wasn't so madly convinced that she probably knows better than I do.
I'm not sure how many moms would say that about their soon-to-be-teen girls. I'm also trying hard to figure out how I managed to raise such a calm, reassuring child amidst the tropical storm that has been her upbringing. I seriously look around sometimes, waiting for the Nutty Patrol to come pick me up. "You there, in the mom outfit! Halt! What do you think you're doing??" In my nightmares, neighbors line the streets and shake their heads in disbelief as I'm carted off for impersonating a woman who could ever have such a lovely, amazing and magical daughter. "Wait!" I trail off, desperate to get back to my baby so I can hug her and smell her hair and be needed by her and wanted by her because she and my Sam and Sara are all I can ever think of. The shock of it all catapults me out of bed some nights and I rush into the kids' room to make sure everyone's there. I re-tuck Sara, who always flings off her covers and then shivers away the night. I smooth Sam's hair in a losing battle to restyle it the way I like it - even in his sleep (what a loon I am!). And then I lean over my beloved Lucy, touch her face and whisper in her ear. I can't tell you what I say... it's between us... and even she is asleep when I say it... although sometimes I could swear she's just pretending...
But what I mean by it is this: from the moment I felt the flutter of you inside me, through the time I first held your tiny little self in my hands, past the time when you told me, hands-on-hips, "I will NEVER play toys with you again," through all the times I had to tell you "Not now" and you walked away so sadly, to the times I have comforted you because I was the only one that would do, and through everything that has and will come, you are the reason I am here. You are why God made me and because of you, I am changed forever, in ways both great and small. What else could I say?