My one-and-half-year-old daughter is going to be a strong woman. How do I know this? Because she screams a lot. Not the willy-nilly cries of toddlerhood, but the fierce, battle cries of a person who knows her mind and is frustrated and angry at the world for not understanding and following along. Baby-hood and toddler-hood do not suit a sovereign soul like hers. Hand holding, infant chairs, baby gates – not to be tolerated. She’s a fierce, little Amazonian, wrapped in Baby Gap clothing.
The quizzical looks she gave me at four-month-old, as I cooed and cajoled, trying to coax a smile, were my first glimpses into her strong mind. I knew when we took family pictures when she was eight-months-old, we’d never get one with her smiling. She’s pretty frugal with her smiles. Thus on my wall today hangs a large close up of my family, set among the autumn trees, three of us all smiles, while the baby girl dressed in a frilly lace romper and bright flower headband gives the photographer her best “Don’t mess with me” scowl.
Some days raising such a strong little woman is hard. There are lots of tears, lots of shrieking, and lots of frustration – for both of us. I am her best friend and her worst enemy. She wants me close by, for lots of hugs and reassurance, but can’t stand that I insist on holding her hand when we are in the parking lot or help her when she climbs too high on the jungle gym. She is quite certain she can do these things on her own, and I am only getting in her way.
In her anger it’s my name she cries over and over and over – mama, mama, mama – venting her frustrations at not having the capacity to do all the things that she longs to do, pleading with me to understand and to fix.
Right now a tiny body, uncoordinated and untrained, holds back her big soul. I have to remind myself of this when I get frustrated at the all crying and the tantrums. I’m raising a strong woman, and one day her fierce independence and stubborn resolve will serve her well.
I remind myself of this today, as she lays on the floor, crying her pleading little cry, while I stand by, once again uncertain the cause for her meltdown. While today she cries for me in frustration, in a few years she will cry for me in pride, calling to my attention all that she has accomplished and all that she hopes to be. And while I look forward to the day when her cries for “mama” are happy cries, full of pride and excitement, today I will appreciate her sad, frustrated pleas for “mama,” embracing not just her little body as I pick her up off the floor, but the chance I have to lead and guide a strong woman through infancy, the chance to watch a strong soul unfold its bright, bold independence each day before my eyes.by