The bend of her bow :: 31 days of messy parenting {day 4}

04 October 2012

We're bent the same, she and I. They say that it's the one who is most like you - the one struggling with your weaknesses, the one mastering your strengths - who will exasperate you and frustrate you and push you to your fraying limits.

She's mine: my tiny, brown-eyed twin.

It's not that she's disobedient or bad or anything like that. On the contrary, she wants to please... so much... so much that it hurts (literally) sometimes. We used to say, when the wee lad was born, that she might accidentally kill him with kindness (this was when she'd run and jump over his wee newborn body or lay on top of him, smothering him with kisses). But she didn't and he's still around, calling after her in newly pronounced Ls.

"El-La, El-La."

He chases after her, which is what we all do. We can't keep up. And we can't keep her down. She's a sly one. Free-spirited. Creative. Wild. Brave. All the things you wish for in a girl, things that will make her strong and independent. Things that will help her in the future when she auditions for her first play, or goes toe-to-toe with the boys on the hockey team, or applies for the job she's always wanted.

She got those things from me. But she also got the the stubborness, the talking more than listening, the allergies, and the temper.

And this is where we push and pull. Her strengths and weaknesses, all jumbled up with mine. We both yell and stomp and flail arms around, trying to match the other's logic with reason. I fight with her more than I do anyone else. I sigh at her, walk away from her, question her, punish her. And in doing this, I fail to recognize the me in her.

It is me she is chasing after. And what she sees (and feels in her bones, marrow from the woman who bore and nursed her), she mirrors right back at me. Round and round we go. Chasing.

Oh, Ella, Ella. It is your 6th birthday. And I still don't yet know you, I still fail you, I still misguide you. We are the same, but you, you... you are so much more than the emotional, wild, stubborn streak I gave you. I'm sorry I don't see you. I'm sorry for not leading you better, in the way you should go. I'm sorry I'm still struggling at being me, unsure of how to empower you being you.

I will learn the bend of your bow, the bend of mine. We can string them together, and our arrows will fly.

Do you have one, the child who is most like you? The child you don't really know, but are somewhat sure you're probably messing up? Let's give one another (and them) some grace here.


  1. karen, this is beautiful. thank you for sharing. isaiah is my just-out-of-reach one, only sure to to become more out of reach as he's entering the stormy, manipulative pre-teens. he's not like me at all, though, much more like his dad (and we know how that turned out!). i just hope to manage not to lose him, like i did in a nightmare just this morning...

    1. Sara, I totally understand. Jackson's becoming stormier too the closer he gets to 10, and he's usually my sensitive and loving child. And Matt just had a similar nightmare last night about Ella. :/ Praying you can shake off the bad dream.

  2. I only grew close to the one like me when I began to tell him he was just like me. When I began to open myself up a little, to tell him how I became like I am, to be honest with him that I screwed up at times with him, that I don't know what I am doing. That I am so insanely proud of him, that I know he will make it because he is like me and we are tough, but that I want him to do better than me - to not make the same mistakes. It seemed as he better understood who I was, he was better able to understand who he is, and now we are allies and friends. I am the parent and he the child, but we are in that transition from parent/child to parent/adult teen. And I enjoy him. Now. I remember when he was three wishing I could stick a tag on him at a garage sale! :)