Monday, April 1, 2013


When I was younger, my sister insisted I had to be *just like her*. I resented it in ways I cannot describe, especially since I was far more prone to climbing trees and running away from the things my sister thought was acceptable. No one defended my right to be my own person. There was even a point when my sister deemed it was unacceptable that I wrote left-handed and she attempted to re-train me to only use my right hand for writing. While I believe much of this behavior was deliberately fed by my abusive mother, I have always been sensitive to such behaviors with my own girls.

R is my mini-me. In every way that E is so much different than me, R is not. R was the last of my intentional prengnacies and the only baby who was a joy to parent and not stressful. While E and C had the worst colic you ever saw, L was born a firecracker, and J had medical issues that kept me on constant alert, R was blissful. While everything that could go wrong with R's birth did, R was placed into my arms after her birth and never left them. I had banned my mother from my homebirths by that point and had found a wonderful CNM back up. When my water broke and she did not come, it was this midwife who cared for us in the hospital. She let me be in control of everything I could be in control of. She placed R immediately into my arms at birth and no one removed her.

R did not cry when she was born. She did not cry in the trip we took to get back home after she was born. In fact, she did not cry for the first six months she was alive. She smiled. She cooed. She talked to me, and I basked in her aura. I called R balm for my mother's soul after her first two siblings.

What breaks my heart is that R thinks she gets lost in the shuffle of a large family. It's not true. We notice her and adore her. However, she is quiet, and she is shy. She doesn't jockey through the chaos and noise to be the most noticed child. It doesn't mean we don't notice her. We do. It is a telling reminder that I am not meeting her love language needs when she starts to feel lost in the shuffle. R needs words of affirmation. She needs to be told when she is doing well and praised dramatically. She also has this quirk that she literally melts at loud noises and harsh corrections. My biggest struggle is that I bluster and fuss and sometimes yell when I am frusrated or angry. It's a bad combination for her little heart and my temper. I hate that we clash and I try to remember this personality conflict, but it always happens that we clash yet again....and little R ends up in tears and I feel like a heel and have to apologize and comfort her for my stupidty again.

In every way that E and L are girly-girls and Princesses, R is NOT. She cannot stand dresses. Her favorite is purple whereas they adore pink. She won't wear dress shoes. She prefers boots, any kind of boot. She likes purses, so long as they are tiny and purple. She prefers boys cargo pants. She is addicted to fleece hoodies with zippers. She now has three. That merely means that we can get one off her by exchanging it for another while we wash the ones not actively on her. She has a good sense of style, but you cannot actually see it since you never see her without a hoodie zipped up and the hood on. She just got her third for Easter, previously she had two.

R likes animals. Until recently, she was 100% focused on becoming a Herptalogist. She is obssessed with snakes and amphibians. The first time she asked for a pet snake, I thought she was joking. I held her off for a year but she kept asking. I've never denied my children something SO precious to them but really...I am NOT a snake person. When she was seven, I thought I could stop her from being interested in this obssession by insisting she had to go learn how to care for snakes from a friend who owned snakes. All it did was make her more pushy. So, at the ripe old age of 7.5, my sweet little girl became the proud owner of Brazilian Rainbow Boa.

When II took this girl to the Repticon show to pick out her pet snake, they found a breeder with two Rainbow boas. R held the female snake. We had warned R that the snakes teeth are angled backward. If she were to ever be bit by a snake, she had to remain calm. Getting upset would cause the snake to get stressed and not let go, and trying to pull away with the way the teeth were angled would cause the flesh to be ripped. I really thought if she got bit by a snake, her obssession would be over. Except, that female boa bit my little girl. She stood there calm and collected and spoke soothingly to the snake until it let go. The breeder said he had never seen anything like her and that snake. He took 25% off the price of a snake and she brought home the brother that did not bite her.

In the summer, this girl goes frog catching with one of her brothers. She rides her bike. She makes straight As and she has now decided she wants to be an exotic animal vet instead of a Herptalogist. I'm not sure why the change, but I am certain this child can accomplish anything she sets her mind to.

In her true tom-boy fashion, R will not permit her hair to be any longer than her chin length. She dyes it red with henna whenever I dye my hair. I don't know why she wants it red instead of brown, but I figure it's only hair and henna is natural dye. She only wears pants. She won't wear pink at all. She has the biggest brown eyes you ever saw. She also has a melt your heart pout when she is unhappy. On the rare occasion that R crosses a line and gets disciplined in ANY fashion, it is usually all of the adults who are left crying because her heartbreak rips your heart out. It only happens once or twice a year, honestly. Off the top of my head, I recall that I took her American girl dolls into time out last fall for verbally attacking people several times after Micah died. That's truly how rarely this child faces discipline. Usually verbal corrections alone are sufficient to reach this little one, and very gentle ones at that.

R was the first "baby" of this family. I was done having babies after her, and two brothers entered the family above her before another baby surprised us. She was well over four when L came into this world. Even now, the little two are the only ones younger than her, despite her fully into her pre-teen years now. She has a slew of older brothers and she is cute and cuddly and rarely upset, so they are super protective of this girl. She was also one of my last to remain in homeschooling. I put her into public school last spring when Micah was dying. I did it for the exact same reason that I put L into public school. R is so sensitive, so attuned to the emotions of others. I desperately needed her to be loved on and protected and given an avenue where she was special and treasured and NOT in the shadow of her artificial twin's death. She was only five months younger than Micah. She felt a keen responsibility and tie to her brother. I knew shw as smart as anything and would thrive no matter where she went to school. I also knew she was such a treasured child that teachers would swoon over her, and she would have those needs to have something precious and seperate from the grief that overwhelmed this family by putting her into school. I was not wrong in that assessment. Her third grade teacher sent me a note to thank me for the precious gift of letting her teach this child. Her fourth grade teacher this year has expressed the identical sentiment. The school struggles to challenge her, and has in fact put her in the highest academic classes and at least one independent study class because she is so smart. However, she is cherished there, and she adores being there. She has certainly felt less lost in the chaos since putting her in school.

A decade after this little one was placed in my arms, she is still balm for a mother's soul. She is still as incredible and amazing as the first day I laid eyes on her. Her name, of all of my children's names, is the one I had reserved for a daughter by the time I was thirteen. I often have trouble realizing that after a lifetime of waiting to be the mother of R, I AM the mother of R and she is living and breathing and not the dream I held onto as a teen in a home with an abusive mother and a hope to be better as a mother myself some day. She is my mini-me.

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