Monday, March 10, 2014
Having a daughter and a son people have often remarked "Isn't it great to get to experience one of each?" To which I quickly respond Yes! Of course it is. I'm sure there are total treasures to having a house full of wild boys or dripping with darling daughters. But yes, I'm thankful for the chance to get to experience a boy and a girl. The joy of this experience often turns to dumbfoundedness when Eric and I become keenly aware of the fact that we are parenting little miniature versions of ourselves. Seriously, ya'll, they are just like us. Harper is me. Baker is Eric. I don't say that often in front of them because I'm not trying to set them up to feel like they need to become like Eric and I and of course they are nuanced in a thousand ways that are different than Eric and I. But really, for the most part, JUST like us. One of the coolest ways we have watched this play out is in the way they interact with each other. The things that drive Eric and I crazy (crazy as in pushing your buttons crazy) about each other are the same for our kids. He wants to engage her and she's lost in thought. She wants her space and he's all up in it. She went to her room to be alone yesterday and Baker sat weeping at her door wanting to come in. Necessary pause here - I do not spend my days running from my husband! But as an introvert at heart I crave time alone, which is scarce when you care for little people who want to sit on your lap while you are using the bathroom. Eric, the truest of extroverts, would spend 90% of his time around others and would probably have us living in some hippie commune if it were up to him. I don't think he's ever asked for space. He likes his space filled with the people he loves. I sleep with one pillow and one sheet and a one feet perimeter of empty space around me. He sleeps with five pillows and a heavy quilt so as to feel what I can only imagine as smothered! If I'm feeling worn out I most likely need to take a few hours at a coffee shop by myself. If he's feeling worn out he needs people, people, and more people. And our dynamic is not unique. So many couples we know and are close to would also describe themselves as profoundly opposite when it comes to these types of personality traits. It's challenging. It requires us to stay mindful of the other person, to maintain that discipline of REMEMBERING that they are not like us and we are not like them and it is not a bad thing to be different. On our hardest of days in marriage I most often think something along the lines of "If you were just more like me this would be so much easier." Anyone else? Okay, good. But man is that false. God drew me to someone who is so "other" than me. Eric is free when I'm restricted. Loud when I'm quiet. Intrusive when I'm withdrawn. Honest when I'm skirting the truth. Bold when I'm fearful. Tender when I'm harsh. And so am I to him. Soft when he's edgey. Thoughtful when he's impulsive. Consistent when he's sporadic. Patient when he's unnerved. I have what he needs. He has what I need. Complimentary. And when two people are complimenting each other well it's fluid and so very good. And when they are resisting each other's differences because they just don't have it in them to see life from their point of view one more time, then the rub is real! And we experience both. And you're going to think I'm crazy for saying this, but so do our kids. Baker knows somewhere in him that his sister is special. He wants her approval. He includes her on everything he sees and experiences. If we are riding in the car and he sees a tractor or a bird or a jeep he shouts, "Harper, jeep! See it jeep?" And she, thumb in mouth and gaze elsewhere, would probably just ignore him. Not deliberately, but because his inquiry is not quite enough to pull her out of whatever thought she is in. But Baker is relentless. Like a scratched record he cannot, and I mean CANNOT move on from that moment until his sister has acknowledged him. So I have to say to her, "Harper, honey, just say 'yes, brother, I see that jeep." She repeats whatever line I feed her and just like that, her brother is satisfied. He cannot experience something on his own. He has to involve someone else. And so often it's his sweet sister he wants along for the ride. Harper is drawn to her brother's freedom. He is loud, funny, and effortlessly charming. He is fearless and aggressive but incredibly tender. She admires the way he goes through life at full tilt. She's become quite the spokesperson for our family, telling strangers when we are out and about what her full name is, where her middle name comes from, and all about her brother. Nine out of ten times she will end her description about Baker with "he sure is a crazy boy." She loves that this crazy boy, this wild blonde-haired creature, is HER brother and no one else's. It means something to her. Baker is a mimic. And he's quite good at it. I call Harper a whole slieu of pet names and the other day in a parking lot I said to her "hurry up, Sugar Bean." Baker repeated this line in his unbelievably cute voice. "Hurry up, Sugar Bean," he said to her through his toothy grin. She laughed and climbed in the van. Later that evening Harper was tired and sad after having gotten in trouble for something. She sat all slumped over on the couch, insistent on her bad mood. Eric and I hear Baker in there trying to cheer her up. He got up in her face, patted her back and said "it's okay, Sugar Bean." We smiled at each other and filed that moment away in the archives of all things priceless. Eric and I do not get everything right when it comes to life. We could probably clip more coupons and order less takeout and keep better daytimers. We could do better at remembering people's birthdays and seeding our lawn. But one thing we get right is knowing when we are smack dab in the middle of the good stuff when it comes to our kids. To the best of our ability, I don't think we are taking them for granted. We know that we have been given two of the most wonderful creatures in our son and daughter. We know that this time that they are little is exasperating and limiting and demanding, but oh so fleeting. We know that we do not deserve them - our wild boy and our sugar bean - we do not deserve them. And yet they are ours. Two opposite personalities who need what the other one has. So very grateful for them this evening. And for my wild boy husband and all the ways he is exactly what I need. Day 2, check.