When I was little I had a need for reassurance. That meant, for my Mom, constantly answering questions to which I absolutely already knew the answers. About a year ago the little girls, more specifically our oldest little girl, started asking questions to which she absolutely already knew the answers.
“Are we going home?” (as we pull into our neighborhood)
“Are we going to the gym?” (as we pull into the gym parking lot)
“Are we taking showers?” (as I’m starting the water for showers)
“Did you go to work today?” (as I pick them up in my work attire)
“Is Daddy driving us to daycare today?” (as I am kissing them goodbye while they are still in bed in their jammies)
“Are we bringing Sullivan with us?” (as I’m putting him in his kennel)
In the beginning, it was so so irritating. Seriously? You’re asking me if we’re heading home and we’re like a block from our house? My husband and I kept asking each other what the deal was with the constant barrage of questions that we knew they knew the answers to. And then I remembered that I did that too.
I wasn’t an insecure kid. I wasn’t worried that my mom would leave me. But I did have a very strong need to know what the plan was at all times. And to be assured of that plan. I’m not sure if it made me feel safe, or more comfortable, or more secure, but I needed something from my Mom when I asked those questions. The questions that we are now being asked by our little girls.
A lot has happened in the lives of my little girls in the past several years. And while we do everything in our power to provide stability, and consistency at our house, it doesn’t change the fact that a lot has happened. It’s the reason I’m so hell-bent on our schedule and following through with the things we say we’re going to do.
Our little girls, like most siblings, are very different from each other. Our oldest little girl is extraordinarily bright, grasps concepts, ideas, and schoolwork with ease and speed, and is beyond her years in how she communicates. She is going to be enormously successful. Our littlest little girl takes a little more time. Has a little less focus. Needs a little more prodding. She understands it all but it takes more effort than it does our oldest little girl.
Emotionally, however, our oldest little girl needs a little more reassurance. Is a little more sensitive. Needs a few more pep talks. Whereas our littlest little girl is brave. She is up for anything. She knows she’s loved and she doesn’t get involved in the drama of little girls. She knows who she is.
I’ve told you that each night I tell the little girls that they are smart girls, they are beautiful girls, they are kind girls, they are important girls, and that I love them very much. With my oldest little girl I sometimes feel like I’m trying to convince her. While with my littlest little girl she beams back at me and often times tells me right back how smart and pretty I am. Like it’s an understanding between two girls who are both pretty special.
In the past several years I’ve thought a lot about how my husband and I will go through life taking turns being the positive one, the strong one, the one really fighting for us. I haven’t given much thought to how the little girls will need more or less of us over the years and likely at different times. Right now our oldest little girl needs snuggle time, she needs reassurance, she needs reminders of how special she is and how much we love her. She also needs reminders of how we, as a family, are committed to treating other people. Our littlest little girl, on the other hand, doesn’t need as much right now. She’s okay. She is getting more and more sassy (not in a disrespectful way…in a spunky way) and we laugh and laugh with her.
Over the past couple months, as I’ve felt like they’ve needed more of us, the days they return to their other house have been harder. I want to fold them up, put them in my pocket, and bring them everywhere with me. I want them to hear me talk about them so they understand how much I adore them and how important they are to me. I want them to experience every part of my life with me. And I want to keep them close to my heart so they’ll always feel safe and assured and loved. But the reality is that we have to give them up, over and over, and it’s heart wrenching. All we can do is make the time we have with them feel safe, and good, and filled with love for our little girls.
Last night we had our first thunderstorm of the season. It seemed as though it was going to be a big one. It got windier and windier as dusk and weather turned the sky a dark shade of blue-green. And conveniently enough, the storm didn’t hit until we were mid-chapter in Nancy Drew and ten minutes from bedtime. Nancy Drew can feel pretty scary when there is a downpour, crackling thunder, lightning, and flickering lights. We put the girls to bed, allowed them to listen to The Nutcracker in their rooms to help with the sound of the storm, and hoped it would pass quickly.
Thankfully, it did, and I began finishing up my weekend posts. A half hour later my littlest little girl called out…
“Mommy? Is the thunderstorm over?” (no thunder had cracked in twenty minutes and the lightning had ceased)
“Yep! All over!”
“I thought so.”
Then my oldest little girl chimed in…
“IS it over?”
“It sure is. It was a quick one wasn’t it?”
“Yeah…I didn’t hear anymore thunder so I thought it was over.”
“You were right! Okay little girls, it’s time to try to go to sleep, see you in the morning!”
And as I kissed them goodbye this morning while they were still in bed and in jammies my oldest little girl said…
“Is Daddy taking us to daycare?”
“He is. I’ll see you at the bus this afternoon.”
TODAY: What if the little girls are asking question, after question, after question (with obvious answers) to feel more safe and secure? What if simply continuing to do what we do, and answering their questions when they ask, makes them feel reassured and loved? What if it’s as simple as that?