When I walked down the aisle to meet my soon-to-be husband at the altar I walked to the song “Lullaby” by the Dixie Chicks. People listening to the lyrics likely thought they represented how I felt about my husband. They did, but we chose the song because the words perfectly described how I felt about my little girls.
They didn’t have you where I come from.
Never knew the best was yet to come.
Life began when I saw your face.
And I hear you laugh like a serenade.
How long do you want to be loved?
Is forever enough? Is forever enough?
How long do you want to be loved?
Is forever enough? ‘Cause I’m never never giving you up.
I met my oldest little girl shortly after she’d turned four. I wasn’t eager to meet them. Not because I didn’t want to, I did, but I didn’t want to meet them until we were fairly certain we were serious about each other. I didn’t want the little girls to fall in love with me, as little girls are prone to do with a new woman in their lives, and then have to walk away because the relationship with their dad wasn’t working. My husband understood but, obviously, it meant that I was absent from the biggest and most important part of his life. On evenings that he had the little girls we either didn’t get together or I’d stop by after the little girls were in bed. Mostly, however, we dated on the days and weekends he didn’t have them.
It happened by accident. He was at the mall, asked me if I wanted to meet him there (knowing I would…I have a thing for shopping), and when I arrived I found him in the food court with the little girls in their double stroller. My littlest little girl was smiley and eager to meet me. My oldest little girl was a little bit reserved.
She looked like a porcelain doll. A perfect little face, perfect plump little lips, big piercing blue eyes, and round rosy cheeks. She was quiet. She wasn’t so sure. I kept talking to them (so nervous on the inside) in hopes that I could warm her up. When we parted ways the littlest little girl asked for a kiss. I kissed her quick, feeling a bit uncomfortable. My husband asked our oldest little girl if she wanted a kiss and she said no. They walked one way, I walked the other, and I wondered how I would win her over. I heard some commotion, some whaling, and my husband called after me. My oldest little girl wanted a kiss after all.
The following year was filled with heartbreak. She knew how to stab me in the heart just right. Whether it was crying for her other mom when I disciplined her, or saying she remembered when they all lived together implying that it was better, or the moment when we told the little girls I would be moving in and she sobbed and sobbed and sobbed (despite their constant requests for me to sleepover).
Even though it broke my heart and killed me a little inside, I knew that she was a child, and that it wasn’t about me. I couldn’t take it personally even though it felt so incredibly personal. I continued to be there, I continued to discipline, and I didn’t allow my resolve to try to be a good mother waver. I was an instant and terrified mother, but a good mother nonetheless.
She had always been a mama’s girl. But it was her “real” mama that she clung to. A year or so after she first laid eyes on me she became a mama’s girl with me too. The little girls stopped calling me Carrie and started calling me Mommy. When we started having “dates” with our girls, offering them alone time with one of us, she started to choose me and not my husband. Every time. When walking together as a family she would hold my hand. She began to show traits that I’d had when I was a little girl. She began to copy some of the things I said, some of the clothes I wore, and some of my personality traits. Things with her got easy.
Today is my oldest little girl’s birthday and she turns nine. We’ve reached a point in her life in which I’ve been one of her moms for more years than I haven’t. She’s turned into a bright, and confident, and kind, and sassy (in a good way), and all around lovely little girl. And I think I can say with confidence that I? Her second mom? I’ve had something to do with that.
I look at her little face every day in the pictures that I have displayed on my desk and on my office walls and I’m more and more in love with her. I see her actual face two to five days per week, depending, and I can’t kiss it enough or hug her little body enough. I’m so grateful that she considers me hers and that I can say she’s mine. Our rocky beginning has turned into an amazing mother-daughter relationship that I wouldn’t give up for the world. I’m so proud to be her mom and I’m so excited to see what this magnificent little girl of mine will become in the years to come.
TODAY: What if a rocky beginning isn’t always indicative of how things will end?