Here's a little secret: when we went to have the ultrasound for our fourth child, I was really hoping for a boy. I have two girls and a boy already so it seemed like good symmetry to have another boy. The real reason, though, is that I just wasn't sure I was up for more girlish drama. My little boy is capable of plenty of drama himself, but somehow, dealing with him is always a lot more straightforward than with the girls.
The technician was quite certain we were having a girl, in spite of our requests to double- and triple-check to make sure she wasn't missing something. I have to admit I shed a few tears, which I am happy to blame on pregnancy hormones. Really I was thinking about having to do one more girl's hair in the mornings.
As my baby girl approaches her first birthday, I have had some time to reconsider my initial reaction. This Valentine's Day, I am happy to think about the 10 little things I love about my baby girl. I recognize that some of these would be true of a boy, but, for me, these are the things that make my daughter unique and special.
- Pink...and purple...and yellow...and a rainbow of colors. When I look at my son's half of the closet, I see navy, red, green, with just a little yellow and orange thrown in for variety. When I look at my little girl's clothes, I see just about every color imaginable. Red and white stripes make a striking statement, but other days we opt for creamy pink. Baby-soft yellow, lime green, purple with lavender polka dots: we have a wealth of choices available for every mood and preference.
- Bows. My daughter has just enough hair to hold a barrette, if I can get it in without her noticing. My mother-in-law taught me how to make my own bows so she will never be in want of a bow. Sometimes she is even willing to wear a headband with a flower attached. Say what you will, bows and flowers beat a baseball cap any day.
- Chub. I've seen some pretty cute, petite little babies but my daughter is not one of them. In exchange for the chore of changing yet one more dirty diaper, I have the gratifying experience of grabbing a handful of chubby thigh. Blowing raspberries on a pudgy tummy brightens up an otherwise gloomy day.
- Girl Talk. Already at 11 months, my daughter has a lot to say. She craves the attention of mommy, daddy, sisters and brother, and she's not afraid to ask for it. She's waving, calling to us, learning sign language and singing herself to sleep, all much earlier and more extremely than any of my other kids. I have a feeling we are in for a lot of future girl talks.
- Stubbornness...and sheer determination. While, in theory, it would be nice to have a meek and mild-mannered child for a change, as a fourth child, she's going to need to be able to stand up for herself. So far, she is demonstrating all the strong-willed tendencies she'll need to get what she wants out of life. I recognize that this means a difficult 17 years (or more!) are ahead of me, I'm excited to see what she is able to accomplish simply by setting her mind to something.
- Cuddles. Most of the time, my daughter is too busy talking, moving or interacting to spend much time cuddling, but every so often (and often in the middle of the night, unfortunately!), she is tired enough to rest her head on my shoulder. I love that feeling of her weight against me, especially if her little hand reaches up to stroke my neck. I know that these times won't last, so I'm happy to take what I can get for as long as I can.
- Belly laughs. For some reason, it seemed like forever before my daughter finally started to chuckle. Even when we could cajole a response from her, her laugh had a rusty quality to it, almost as though she was forcing herself to produce something for our benefit. Now she seems to have the hang of humor, and my other kids will practically knock themselves out trying to come up with a stunt that will make her laugh.
- Crocodile tears. The first time we told her "no," she stared at us as if we were naughty subjects in need of some time in royal dungeons. Eventually, she developed an appropriate sense of guilt. Now when she throws her food from the table, she quickly works up some lusciously big tears when she gets in trouble. I don't know whose heart hurts more when she is facing some necessary discipline: mine, her daddy's, her siblings' or her own.
- Dollies. My daughter got her first baby doll this Christmas from my aunt. Of course, it is the first of many we will receive, but since it is her first, it is special to me, and I hope it will always be special to her. Already she love to play with her and hold her when she is falling asleep. Taking care of her dolly now is only a precursor to the maternal instincts and characteristics that will some day make her a loving mother herself.
- Tiny fingers. It never ceases to amaze me that babies are supposed to use a pincer grasp. How can such tiny little fingers actually pick things up? Today after I put a little lip balm around her lips, she took the (closed) balm and mimicked me, taking one little finger to apply the balm just as I had done. How can such tiny little fingers accomplish so much?
Happy Valentine's Day, Lilianna!
Melanie is a Shine Parenting Guru. You can find out more about the loves of Melanie's life at her blogs, (after)life and tales from the crib.