It’s been almost sixteen months of Joanie out of the womb. She has such a big personality. I’ve been reflecting on life with her as she nears that moment when you realize, she’s not really a baby anymore… What is it that makes you realize it? Discovering they have developed opinions on things? Seeing them work so hard to be just like you? Watching them look for approval in your face as they learn a new thing? The will emerging when they are told “no?” Maybe it’s all of those things. But it’s becoming apparent that soon, she will run and jump and no longer need assistance walking, and that is so beautiful and so sad at the same time!
I struggled to find my place as a mother again when she was born. She was so different from Eliot! I didn’t expect to struggle in that capacity. Sure, I knew how to do the diapers, the feedings, the kissing of all the ouchies. I knew how to rock her, soothe her, and play with her… I knew all the lullabies and so on some level, it was much easier with a second baby. But that spunky personality… whew, that was a real curve ball. I kept expecting her to want to be clingy, to LOVE nursing, to be shy. But of course she wasn’t going to be the same as my first! She’s NOT my first.
We did things differently with her. For starters, we did not Co-Sleep, and she became a champion sleeper! She was sleeping through the night by ten weeks! And then, for whatever reason, after being an amazing nurser from the start, nursing fell out around five months, and she became even more independent. And as far as rocking, she would much rather laugh it up and crack baby jokes than put her head on my shoulder for hours!
For a while, I was so frustrated by those things and I felt like a failure as a mother. It wasn’t until recently that the common sense that each baby is different REALLY began to sink in. By considering myself a failure, I was actually considering my baby as a failure too! How awful. Once I made that realization, other means of contentedness began to fall into place.
God didn’t give me a second melancholy, clingy, highly sensitive baby, even if I felt like I would be a pro at that the second time around. I had learned with my first the beauty of that kind of child. So many snuggles, so much empathy at such a young age, such a thirst for learning… God gave me the opposite and I was going to have to learn all about this new kind of child. He gave me an independent, bouncy, good-humored baby. I was focusing on the challenges, but He wanted me to see the beauty too!
And such beauty was there to be had by this second child. She is the jelly to Eliot’s peanut-butter. What a comedian this child is… She actually cackles ALL THE TIME. She has the most adorable grin. She is so spunky that she’s not afraid to express displeasure with something. She’s also such a sweet spirit! She shares easily and is such a fan of playing!
I realized that if I had been given another melancholy child this time, the struggle that I’ve had with my anxiety and mental health would have been so much worse. There have been so many times of anxiety over the last year and a half that have been soothed by my baby! I’ll be in a state of fretting and then Joan will do something hilarious or play peekaboo, or start growling and the laughter will bubble out of me. She’s not a fix for my problems, I don’t view her that way at all. But she is a balm from the Lord for my heavy spirit. God was ACTUALLY thinking of me when he designed Joanie.
I thought I needed another highly sensitive and clingy baby to snuggle through the hardships. But what I really needed was sparkling, twinkling, playful eyes, and easy grins, and lightheartedness. Joan is pure JOY, which is why I constantly use the hashtag, “joyful joanie” to tag her.
I see her bless her brother too. She loves to play and share with him. She looks for him first when she wakes up each day, and she mimics him in almost everything. She also paves the way for him to be brave with her bold, feisty spirit! In contrast, when she gets hurt, Eliot is better than even I am at consoling her. He sings to her in the car when she’s angry and she stops. He kisses her ouchies and makes her giggle. He tells her that it’s okay to be sad if she’s upset. He holds her hand whenever she lets him. He chases her around the house to wear her out.
Joan makes me laugh. She lightens my load. Her beautiful smile brings me such joy when I come home to her, and her laid back behavior when I have to go out without her never puts me in any distress. Her giggle can part the clouds. She is so much joy.
Eliot’s detailed care and high empathy shows me the love of God at all times. When I feel alone, he hugs my neck and says, “you’re the best girl in the world and I love you,” and I remember that I’m not alone. He forgives me so easily when I mess up, and he prays for me if I’m having a difficult day of any kind. He adores books and snuggling, and asks to just “be with me,” all day. His favorite part of any outing is always, “that our whole family was together.” Eliot is pure love.
I was given two very different kinds of blessings, and I’ve come to see God’s love for me in each of their designs. He didn’t just make Joan. He put her in this family, and she balances it beautifully. He gave her to us to raise and through raising her, we are rich beyond any treasure. God also thought of me when He formed her. The world is a fuller and better place with Joan in it. How amazing that I experience the love of God through my son and the joy of Christ through my daughter.