Thursday, January 26, 2012
smack dab in the middle
she's a girl who makes snowflakes and then hangs them from her mama's bedroom ceiling, for no other reason than, just because. a girl who, while babysitting her little sister, got out scissors and paper and made beautiful snowflakes at the kitchen counter. a girl who then dragged the snowflakes, the step ladder, and the little sister upstairs so she could hang them from my (vaulted) ceiling and surprise me. this is my sarah.
sarah is my middle child -- she is my smack dab in the middle girl. she has both a brother and sister on either end of her--older and younger bookends. i try to tell her it is a special place. there aren't many kids who can boast this kind of brother-sister combination. it just isn't all that common these days.
i tell her she is the center point of perfect balance -- she rolls her almost teenage eyes at me and snorts. i tell her she is the middle of the seesaw --- the balance, the bridge, the glue, the gap. i remind her the middle is the best part, like an oreo or creamsicle or a canoli. she is the halftime show, the intermission, the center court queen. but i am not sure i have got this 11 year old girl quite convinced. she has her own ideas about the birth order she was handed --the family placement she was put in. she says things to me like, "it's tough being in the middle -- you can get lost." recently she was questioning her bedtime. she couldn't understand why we put her to bed at the same time as the little ones. she said she thought we should "round up" and include her with the older kids when it came to things like bedtime and allowance. she is smart, this daughter of mine.
my middle girl was born a mystery. we knew the sex of the others before their arrival. but she was the only one of the five we wished to keep a surprise. i find that funny now. actually, i find it absolutely perfect. there is enough about this girl which still remains a mystery.
i don't think she is at all a classic middle child. i've read the descriptions and i can't say she fits smoothly into the categories. she is not a girl who easily fits into categories in general. and i like that about her.
but she certainly is a young lady who seems to always be in the middle of something. doesn't much matter what the scenario, but my sarah has a spoon in the pot. she is a stirrer. she has an opinion. an observation. a comment. a question. she can't help herself. she is in the thick of things --- sometimes a mediator and sometimes a meddler, but most always in the middle.
let me just say though, there is absolutely nothing middle of the road about this girl. she is an all in kind of kid. she was the toddler who woke early each morning with a list of things rattling out of her as she came down the stairs. before a bite of breakfast was taken she was spouting outlandish ideas, fabulous schemes and devilish dreams for her day. she'd string them together like a strand of colorful beads and this mama could hardly keep up -- make purple playdough, picnics and pinatas and ponies and homemade pizza! she never hesitated to ask. and she still doesn't. there is no thought too big, no thing too large. why not? is the phrase belonging to her. she owns it. i can't say i've always embraced those words tumbling out of her. why not? she has asked over and over and over. the parenting books told me, "because mommy said so" should be enough. but, i can tell you, it never was for this one. it still isn't. she loves answers. real ones. truthful ones. she doesn't settle for quick fixes or pat replies. the truth is, she just flat out doesn't settle. but if she did, i probably wouldn't have snowflakes hanging from my bedroom ceiling this winter.
this hasn't always been kind to our mother-daughter relationship. we butt heads on occasion. two headstrong women we already are -- and she just barely into double digits. but i know God will use this special wiring. i am certain He will. she is strong. she is determined. we need more women and men who are willing to ask "why not?" "why can't we?" "why wouldn't we?" i mean right now, that kind of questioning isn't always easy to parent. right now, she needs to learn and accept the boundaries and answers in our home. that is her job as an obedient child. her persistence and strength challenge me. but as her mother i am doing my best to look down the road. rick likes to say, "channel this girl for good." she's got that extra special spark...and it is a tricky business with a kid like this. we have had to learn to discipline and shepherd her heart without extinguishing the spark of her spirit.
maybe you have a child like this. my mother sure did -- me! i can remember one summer at family bible camp my mom was done with me. i mean it. d o n e. we were sitting on a small hill having one of those tired mother and touchy teenage daughter talks. we had been having a hard few months, (perhaps a hard year) and she said, "jody, i hope someday you have a daughter just like you. you'll understand then." i don't think she meant that in the most positive light. i wasn't always easy. i really wasn't. all the things i just shared about my middle girl, well, i was a lot like that too. and i am pretty sure i wasn't half so sweet. i don't fault my mom for that comment one bit. it sounds like something i would say today. and i understand it now. i really do understand it, not perfectly, but better.
parenting our kids isn't easy. first born. last born. middle born. makes no difference--they all come with something. each one special. i have learned -- no, truthfully, i am learning -- as the mother of five kids, i have five very different kids. each one unique. each one bringing something different to the dinner table. each one needing something different from me. i know this best when i tuck them in at night. they each have their own routine. their own special words and worries. sarah wants the most from me -- she knows there are four other siblings waiting, but, come nighttime, and she needs to connect with me. she needs to know she is in the middle of my heart. my middle girl is a reminder of the girl i was growing up -- the girl who was always restless for more, the girl who questioned everything, the girl who hated to settle. the girl who was sometimes difficult for no apparent reason. that girl, well, she's a mama now. and she's still a lot like this. what's more, as her own mother predicted, she has a daughter a lot like her. a girl who hangs snowflakes from her mama's ceiling...just because.