Little did I know, she was a girl who would become better than I imagined.
My oldest came to live with us when she was five years old. I had never been a parent and had a vision of what it meant to be. I wanted to mold her into this obedient, submissive, quiet girl.
That was not the girl I got.
My first clue should have been when I learned she preferred jumping in puddles to playing with baby dolls. Or maybe when all the cute girly clothes I bought, she thought made her look "stupid." Don't get me wrong, she was a sweet girl, but she was fierce and bold. Neither qualities that I possessed.
I would get frustrated when I'd go to school and instead of hearing that she did her schoolwork quietly and helped people complete their work as I did in school, they would say, "She loves to talk." Looking back, this should not have frustrated me, as they all said it with the same grin, not disappointment or anger. They could see the greatness in her, despite her mischievous ways. They saw the potential in her.
As I continued to try to mold her into this person who was a better version of me, one day it occurred to me, she is not me, nor will she ever be me. In fact, she is as outgoing as I am quiet. She was a leader, where I tended to fall back in the shadows. She was bold, while I was meek.
Now please understand, I always adored her and saw potential in her, but I ran into a mistake that I see many other moms make. I was trying to change who she was rather than help shape the beautiful girl she already was and is today. Suddenly, a verse I had heard made so much more sense. Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go..." I wasn't supposed to train her to go in the way I was supposed to go, I was to train her to be a better version of herself.
Today, I strive to encourage her in her natural born ability to lead by reminding her that gift is meant to encourage others, not to boss or belittle. I strive to teach her that her ability to talk to anyone should be used on those who may need a friend. I strive to teach her that her ability to make others laugh should be tempered with a sensitivity towards others. I no longer try to change her, but encourage the positive attributes that she already possesses.
What I learned with her is going to serve me well with my youngest. I will accept her personality as unique and strive to bring out the good that is already there rather than mold her into something she is not. I will say as a mother I am proud of my oldest as I see glimpses of the adult she will be. I adore that she is so refreshingly not me, and has made our family richer, because she brings so much to our family that neither my husband nor I can. Once I finally realized that raising our children is not molding them into our idea of perfect, but rather teaching them to enhance their natural gifts, it has allowed me to truly see how wonderfully beautiful she is.