Thoughts on life and love, now that pink has invaded my world…
Selah. I have a daughter and her name is Selah. She is real, a fact that I have to remind myself of every time I pick her up and see her bright blue eyes twinkling back at me behind those mile-long lashes. She is real, she is healthy, and she is mine. She is the most perfect, beautiful, delightful bundle of pink joy that ever existed. I get to hold her, change her, feed her, swaddle her, re-swaddle her, bathe her, sing to her, and put her in bows…I get to see each of her milestones first hand and ooh and ahh at each one. I get to be the recipient of her contagious smiles that wiggle through her entire body, beginning with her toes and exploding through her mouth. I get to tell her how proud I am of her throughout every day and tell her how much I love her and tell her how much she fills my life with joy. I get to kiss her chubby cheeks over and over and over again until she giggles and squeals with delight…
Elliott. I say to him daily, “You simply make my heart swell with joy.” I don’t know how else to describe it…I love learning more every day about what makes Elliott Elliott. I love watching him approach a problem and seeing the solution he comes up with to fix it. I love telling him how creative he is when he thinks of a new way to build a lego tower or play with his toys. I love how, 8 months later, he is still pointing to the one toy bin that’s missing a label and reminding me that it’s an, “Uh-oh!!” I love that he loves to drink water and ensures that everyone around him drinks theirs, too. I love that he picks out the letter, “E” everywhere, and points at it like he’s found gold, saying, “A-ee-et!!!” (That is, to say, “Elliott!”) I am just so proud of him. I am so proud of his heart. I am so proud of every time he obeys and my heart is so expectant in those times that he doesn’t. Because he always comes around. He always ends up with a soft heart that delights in helping our family be the best it can be. He delights in serving. He delights in having a purpose in our family. He thrives when we beam with pride over him. And I just couldn’t possibly be more proud of him. Of who he is and who he is becoming. Of how he has allowed his will to be bent and shaped by his parents’ careful, thoughtful instruction and, ultimately, by God’s hand.
Selah and Elliott are different. I knew they would be. (Yes, yes…I know…a biology textbook could have clued me in to that insight…) But when you are head-over-heels in love with your firstborn, it’s difficult to imagine how your heart could possibly expand to fit any more love in there. And with your first, everything is new…you just sit back and watch this little miracle GROW…and it’s just that–a miracle. You can’t believe that your baby will just intrinsically know how to grow… “How will he know how to roll over? Do I need to teach him that? Will he ever learn to sit up? Is it normal to see his heart beating through that hole in the top of his head? Will that thing ever close up??? Ooh! I see a tooth coming in! Wait, is it coming into the right spot? Shouldn’t he be crawling by now? What if he never crawls??” How can I even describe the shock and awe that took place each time Elliott hit a new benchmark…it’s just miraculous…As a new mom, you get to watch these miracles occur before your very eyes… And it’s true–miracles never get old. There is still such an abundance of joy and such an excitement with each new milestone Selah reaches… “She smiled at me! Again!! She giggled today! She rolled over!!! She moved her left little pinkie toe three times while she was clasping her hands and I just KNOW she’s trying to tell me she loves me!!” But nonetheless, it’s different. You don’t want to compare your children, but how can you not? The first is all you know.
It’s like this. It’s like you’ve been eating homemade, fresh-baked strawberry shortcake all your life. Your mouth waters as the dessert hour approaches and you think about licking the remnants of the batter out of the bowl before popping the drops of sugary dough into the oven. After 12 minutes (or less, if you can sneak it out of the oven early before your husband notices) of fired glory, you carefully pull the lightly-dusted-with-golden-brown cakes out of the oven and quickly smother yours with fresh, sweet, sliced, bright red strawberries. You load on the whipped cream and spoon the very first bite in your mouth–a perfect blend of warm, gooey shortcake, decadent berries and rich cream…Mmm, strawberry shortcake. But then one day you are invited to try a different dessert, a new one. You are so satisfied with the first that it’s difficult to even think about another. But can you ever have enough dessert? So you are introduced to, say, the Signature White Chocolate Mousse Cake from Salty’s. Its plain white appearance is quite unassuming but as you fork the first bite into your mouth, you know your life has been changed forever. Like snowflakes effortlessly melting into the pores of your fingerprints, so the white chocolate saturates your tongue with flavor and then seeps into every fiber of your being. You are hooked, and have barely begun to swallow before you’re going in for bite number two. Throw a cup of decaf on the side and you will never be the same again.
But you cannot help but compare it to the shortcake…clearly not because you love it less than the shortcake, but because strawberry shortcake is all you’ve known up until now. If you had to choose between them, you couldn’t. Your choice would simply–but obviously–be, “Both.” You love them both but you love them differently. Because they are different.
Selah was just a few days old when these thoughts fumbled their way out of my mouth, as I wrestled with this new taste of love. I said to Brian: “It’s just that I love Elliott so much and I love Selah so much, too…but my love for Selah feels different.” And I couldn’t help but wonder if that “different” meant “less.”
“That’s okay, because she is different,” he calmly assured me.
And so I am learning that it is. That “different” doesn’t mean “less.” It means different. They have very different habits and they have reached (and will reach) different milestones at different times and they have very different stories already. And that last “different” has been especially hard for me.
A dear friend said to me before Selah was born, “Elliott has been your world…it’s going to be difficult to add another and realize you can’t give her as much time as you’ve given him.” I knew it would be. And it is.
Time…attention…those are my love languages. I’ve said to Brian so many times, “We don’t just sit around and stare at her for hours on end like we did with Elliott…is she lacking?? We haven’t been able to give her nearly as much attention as we did with him…”
“And Elliott didn’t have a big brother to give him kisses on his head 400 times a day…” Brian reminds me.
Enough said. It’s about so much more than being bathed in toddler smooches and drool; it’s about being lathered with big brother love…a love that can be so unique, so strong, so inspiring, so life-changing. I know of this love first-hand.
Yes, she is being loved differently in these early months. I may not have the time to spend countless hours studying every curve of her face with a camera in my hands, snapping hundreds of pictures (a day). Selah is often strapped in the Ergo “coming along for the ride.” But you’d better believe that when I look down and see her staring up at me, I stop what I’m doing, catch my breath, and soak in her beauty and delight. We may be “on the go” more often than we were with E-man, but that doesn’t mean that I’m missing anything, or that she is lacking anything… In fact, it’s the contrary: she’s the best loved baby in the world as she watches balls fly past her face, listens to trains choo choo next to her ear, and is often the subject of Elliott’s art projects.
Selah has two parents who are completely enamored with her, but she also has a brother who adores her with every fiber of his being…who kisses (read: slobbers on) her over and over and over again, who asks about her as soon as he wakes up, who wants her to sit next to him every time we get in the car, who longs to share his toys with her all day long, who giggles with pride and delight when she rolls over, who melts when she smiles back at him and grabs his finger…Oh, she is so, so, so adored by her big brother. A love that is different, even, from the love of her parents. She has this incredible big brother who includes her, who invites her, who asks about her and wants the very, very best for her.
Oh, yes, she is certainly loved. And she is certainly lacking nothing.
Oh, yes, my love for her is surely different, yet as perfectly strong and profound as my love for her big brother.
Oh, yes…my choice is absolutely, “Both, please.”