Written by Steady Mom contributor Megan Tietz of SortaCrunchy
I can remember with vivid clarity the moment the ultrasound tech announced to my husband and I that our second child was, in fact, another girl. My pregnancy with our second had been so radically different from my first that I was convinced it had to be a boy. As the feelings of shock faded, a gentle peace came over me.
Another girl. Well, I can do this. I know all about being a mama to girls.
If you are chuckling to yourself right now (as I am), then you know how often siblings can stand in stark contrast to one another, even siblings of the same gender. And yes, it’s true. We have two girls who are could not possibly be more dissimilar from each other.
That little one who revealed the big shock in the ultrasound room is the one who continues to throw me curve balls, more often than not shattering any illusions I might have of actually knowing what I am doing in this mothering gig.
Although my oldest was a challenge as a baby, as she has gotten older, life has gotten easier because she is so very like me. She is artistic, loves to read, gets her feelings hurt easily, and lives for a great story. Happy to sit and make fairy houses or sit and paint or sit and play computer games, life with her is languid and unhurried.
Little sister? Sitting never, ever happens. If we are outside, then she is off exploring. If we are reading, she is squirming. If we are creating art, she is back and forth and up and down at the table. Supremely athletic, charming, and thick-skinned, she is in almost every way imaginable opposite of me.
A few weeks ago when my oldest daughter had the flu, I took our younger daughter outside. In just a few moments, my plan of drawing with sidewalk chalk was vetoed so we that we could, instead, ride bikes.
Walking beside her down the street, thinking about how often she chooses the opposite of my preference, I had a moment of insight considering all that I have learned in these few short years of parenting a child so very unlike her mother.
Raising a child opposite from yourself has the potential to energize motherhood. Yes, parenting my oldest might be easier at times, but it is also quite predictable. There is a built-in enthusiasm generator when the predictability factor is removed.
Children whose personalities, temperaments, and preferences are so different from ours motivate us to be open to the unfamiliar. Because of my younger daughter, I’ve met people I never would have talked to, I’ve ridden on every merry-go-round in our town, and I’ve learned more about dinosaurs than I ever thought possible. Each day with her is a day in which I become more well-rounded.
Communicating with my older daughter is like speaking my native tongue. My younger daughter offers me the chance to take up a foreign language, a language where all the verbs are running and all the adjectives sparkle and all the adverbs are shrieks of laughter.
While my oldest daughter and I share a natural affinity for spoken words (and lots of them!), my youngest teaches me the nuance of speaking with action. How is that I am 33 years old and I am just now learning this language? And who else could have taught me with such dogged determination?
I’ve come to realize that I can view the daily work of parenting a little person so different from me as an irritant or an invitation. She is going to be who she was created to be; it’s up to me to see that in all the ways she is different from me, I can find a powerful invitation to stop anticipating and just experience life together.
Are there days when our differences cause friction? Of course. But I’m learning day by day to intentionally look for the lesson behind the frustrations of our completely opposite views on the world.
These are lessons I wouldn’t trade for the world. You can bet your sweet triceratops on that.
*Do you have a polar opposite in your home? How have you learned to deal with the unique challenges?*
Megan spends her days with her two daughters and husband seeking the steady amidst the endless activity. She blogs at SortaCrunchy, where she leads a community of like-minded people in discussion and dialogue at the intersection of faith and a life more natural.