My daughter loves to surprise me. This usually takes the form of running up to me and yelling, “SURPRISE!!!!” followed by her wildly giggling, “I surprised you!!” I tell her she has surprised me from the very beginning, and it’s true
We prayed and planned for a baby. That part wasn’t the surprise. The surprise came in the tiny bundle who was my mini-me and yet a mystery.
I didn’t expect her, this child with my big brown eyes, my husband’s facial expressions, and the combined force of our stubborn strength.
When I saw how much she looked like me, part of me hoped that her personality would mirror mine as well. Parenting was already outside of my comfort zone. If my daughter was like me, maybe it would all be a little less confusing and a little more predictable. But of course she is her own unique being, one who challenges me more than almost anything else in my life.
I was a quiet, timid child, content with books and pretend play. While my daughter loves those things too, she is active and exuberant. In place of my timidity, she has a wondrous fervor. She is utterly exhausting and enchanting all at once, wild and free and unashamed.
I know part of it is being three, but I also know there is something beyond simply her age. She has more spunk and sass than I ever have. She inhabits it naturally and unapologetically. This confounds me because it is so foreign to me, yet I admire her.
She pushes me outside of my comfort zone on a regular basis, and I need that. She helps me dig deep and grow in unexpected ways. Watching her tackle life head-on makes me more aware of my own strengths, weaknesses, assumptions, and motivations. I have to work to keep up with her.
She isn’t all energy and determination. She has a sweet, thoughtful spirit that never fails to melt my heart. When I told her Daddy wasn’t feeling well one day, she declared, “Daddy needs Hugsy!” and ran to get her big stuffed penguin for him. Her teachers tell us she comforts and encourages her friends when they are sad.
This combined strength and compassion will be a tremendous blessing to those around her. They already are to me: her strong will strengthens my own, and her sweet heart softens mine.
May I have the wisdom (and energy!) I need to teach her to use these gifts well.
May I celebrate her strong spirit, not fear or crush it.
May I see her for who she is, not who I want her to be.
I never expected you, my sweet, sassy girl. You are my favorite surprise.