Saturday, February 13, 2016

On identity and relationships (18 months)

My 18-month-old exploring the University of Oklahoma campus.


It's difficult for me to summarize my feelings on the last six months. Not because you haven't made marked growth, but because when I think of you, I feel like you and I — as we know us now — has always been. It almost seems implausible to imagine my identity as one that isn't fluid with my small child, ebbing and flowing from one to two as only a mother and infant can. Between pregnancy and breastfeeding for 14 months, I shared my body with you for nearly two years. Though we have always been two separate beings, for much of your life up until this point I have lived and done so much for you — producing food for you, changing you, helping you sleep and regulate your emotions, etc. It's an experience that has humbled me, better taught me the meaning of charity, and given me a small glimpse into how and why the Savior would so willingly sacrifice himself for all of us. Divine love — charitable love, Christ-like love — inspires undeviating selflessness and sacrifice. What a gift, what a joy it has been to feel that love for you.

As you grow, you are continuing to find yourself. In the last month or so, you have become quite proficient at saying "go" and "no." You have no problem using either. I can tell you are proud to be asserting your independence. Everyone warned me how terrible it would be once you could voice your opinions. But I find it satisfying. I love that you can give me a definitive "no." I prefer it over being yelled at until I can guess your need or frustration. Your personality has continued to flourish in other ways. It's become apparent you're bossy. You often tell other kids how to do things. Or if you don't like how someone — anyone — is interacting with you, you're quick to let them know. I rest assured knowing I will never have to worry about you being a doormat. But Mercy, my sweet girl, learn from your mother's mistakes: you can be both assertive and sensitive to other's feelings. You are undoubtedly tenacious and almost too smart for your own good. It's difficult to trick you. With you, there is no "out of sight, out of mind." But despite an already apparently bold personality, you have become cautious and measured. In new situations, you prefer to sit back and observe before slowly tiptoeing in. Though you smile and giggle through your observations, my guess is you'll never be the gal to recklessly cannonball in to a new experience.

As you age and grow more and more independent from me, I have no doubt our relationship will continue to change and morph as well. But I can tell you, without any doubt, that I'll always love you. And, very likely, I'll love you more with each passing day. Every time I think of you — of us — the word I keep coming back to is "divine." Not because our relationship is without trial or error, but because you fill every empty space of my soul with a joy I find impossible to describe. Being your mother propels me closer to heaven. Being your mother is truly divine.


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