Everyone asks me if it's different having a little girl after our two boys. The short answer is yes, but it's more complicated than that. In many ways she's the same but in others, it is different. Maybe it's me but she seems more dainty and her energy is calmer. As a tiny baby, she would sit still on my lap and watch everything going on around us. She liked conversations and would watch the person I was talking to intently. The boys always seem to be moving grabbing and climbing. Of course, now at 7 and a half months, she's all wiggly too. In many ways, babies are babies and there are common threads between them all.
One thing all of my babies have in common is a love for the water and taking warm bubbly baths, especially with me. The other night, the boys were off doing a boy scout thing and E and I were having the night to ourselves. She loves it when I hold her shoulders in the bathtub and let her lower half float free. I was watching her as she kicked and wiggled and was imagining her growing up and what she might be like at different stages. Suddenly, I was struck by this intense sense of fear. I saw, in a flash, all the pitfalls that await her. I felt (not just saw) the social pressures, the self doubt and the dangers. I saw her second guessing herself. In that moment, I also realized what the biggest difference is so far between her and the boys. I know, very personally, some of the hardships she will face. I don't just imagine them, I went through them too.
Yes, certain things are universal. We all experience emotions like pain, fear and sadness. We all know what it feels like to be left out or to feel intense joy. In that flash, though, I saw myself in her, as clear as if she were a mirror. While I know she will have her own path and it will not be a copy of mine, she will stumble. One day, she will look in the mirror and, though I can't fathom it, think she's ugly. That's even hard for me to type.
If only our children could see themselves as we see them...perfectly imperfect, like tiny beacons of light. I look at them and just see this incredibly unique blend of idiosyncrasies, talents, quirks and feelings. I see the boys this way too. I don't know, exactly, what it feels like to be a boy though. I can only imagine. I do know what Einin will struggle with and what demons she'll wrestle. I know what that feels like.
While I have 41 years on her 7 months and 14 days, I still fight those feelings. I wish I could say that I am older and wiser now and the uncertainty is behind me. It's better, yes, and I am wiser but I'm not beyond it. I have no idea what to do about these fearful feelings that I have for her. I can't protect her from the struggle, not completely.
So, if you ask me what is different, I would have to say that I feel like we are kindred. It makes me wonder, if Steven looks at our boys and sees the same mirror?