Today’s challenge asks that I write about someone who inspires me. Well, it just so happens that today is Audrey’s 11th birthday, so I dedicate this post to her. It seems only appropriate to do so on such a momentous occasion. Of course, each of my children inspires me in different ways, but since today’s is Audrey’s day, that’s where my focus will be.
Eleven years ago yesterday, late in the evening, I began to have some contractions that came on faster and stronger than I expected. Because I had already had a 37-hour labor, and an eight-hour labor, I assumed I had hours to go yet.
Then, I threw up.
Uh-oh. Nope. This baby was coming faster than I thought, so I asked Levi to call my midwife, Merrie, and let her know it was time to come.
He didn’t quite believe me, but I growled at him, so he complied. She asked to talk to me, I told her I’d just thrown up and I wanted her, and she practically hung up on me as she assured me she was on her way.
My mom and dad both woke up, and while Dad went out to the living room (his first time attending a birth since the births of his own kids), Levi and Mom began to get the bed ready. Merrie made it over in record time, offered to check me, and I was at nine centimeters!
“Thank GOD!” I remember exclaiming. As she crowned only a few minutes later, Levi announced that this one had red hair!
“This one is going to look just like you, hon!” he said. I totally didn’t care. Because PUSHING A BABY OUT IS A BIG DEAL.
She was placed in my arms, my tiniest fairy child at 6lbs, 13oz. She did, indeed, have wispy red hair, and sweet pink lips. I fell in love.
She was ethereal in her baby beauty. Utterly different from her brother and sister before her. I was delighted. And I still am.
Audrey is a tiny freckled ball of sparkly power and joy and song and movement and laughter. She is my very own Sunshine, and she inspires me every day. She is my only true extrovert, but is also highly sensitive. She is like me, yet unlike me, because she’s not the oldest child. I understand her, yet she is a mystery.
Audrey inspires me to read more, to throw out everything I think I know about raising children, and to learn. I find it hard to stay ahead of her, frankly. She’s almost too smart for me. She is compassionate and kind, and quick to make amends when she has been thoughtless. She forgives more quickly than anyone I have ever met, and is ready and willing to put it behind her.
Her sense of justice is strong, as “That’s not FAIR!” is a near-constant refrain. Of course, she’s often right, though she must learn that “fair” is not always the standard, and it doesn’t always mean what she thinks it does. I have no doubt she will.
Her empathy is unusually keen, too. The other day, when I shared with her that our friends had adopted an eight-year-old girl, Audrey’s empathy couldn’t take it. She was so happy for our friends to have a new daughter but so very sad at the loss this little girl must be feeling for her biological family. She grasped quickly the sense of what adoption really means for the child—a loss and a gain together. Conflict, love, struggle, and acceptance. Even grief. That’s more than most adults can do in a lifetime, and she grasped it all in an instant. She was moved to tears, from both joy and sadness.
Audrey is also moved to tears by beautiful things. When we visited the Air Force Academy Protestant Chapel, she literally burst into tears at the sight of it. We bonded again in that moment. She’s my very own tiny Anne Shirley, whose “queer ache” in response to beautiful things is something very real that Audrey and I share.
She is unusually intelligent and intuitive. A combination that can create some unique challenges for her, especially in school. That sharp insight that leads her to read the feelings of others, combined with the immaturity of 5th grade and the juvenile need to fit in have made friendships a bit hard to navigate for her. In some ways, I’m learning to be more proactive and involved, while backing off in others.
She’s a paradox, that one—strong-willed and sure, but tender as a brand new shoot of some sweet flower. She challenges my authority with an iron will at times. I am hard-pressed to discipline and teach her without breaking her extremely tender spirit.
Audrey is not just strong in spirit and will, but in body. That child can climb anything, even better than most boys, and would likely be a gifted gymnast or dancer, if we could afford it.
She wants to be a midwife when she grows up. I couldn’t imagine a better one. She lives half in fairyland, dreaming and believing with child-like faith, yet strong and solid and unmovable. She is going to do whatever she sets her mind to because where her mind goes, her will follows.
She inspires me to walk in joy, to laugh, to feel, to fight, to struggle, and to keep going. I have to believe and walk in faith, because that one watches more closely than any other, and I cannot let her down. Ever.
What a privilege to be Mother to this darling vivacious redhead!
I have no idea what I’m doing, but with her, I’m pretty sure that Love really will be enough.
Grace & Peace,