We named her after a long-gone First Lady.
Andy and I had read some of the letters of John and Abigail Adams and they resonated with us. As we read we couldn’t help but think, “Their love and the language that they use with one another, sounds like ours… sounds like us.” We probably give ourselves a little too much credit. *shrug* We got a good name out of the deal just the same.
She was different from the beginning, my Abigail. Her older sister had always been a fire-cracker. Literally. As a baby all of her emotions were explosions and those explosions were either delightful or devastating. Abigail, though, from the beginning brought two words to mind: Sweet and Fierce.
By the time she was one she had shockingly blonde hair. When she stopped being a baldy baby and her hair really thickened people couldn’t help but comment. Looking at the dark hair that Andrew and I both have and Carolyn’s chestnut colored hair, then seeing Abbie’s hair so pale and blonde, people would look at us and raise their eyebrows. Where did the blonde hair come from? I still don’t know, but I can tell you she’s the spitting image of my Grandmother–Dad’s Mom, and a child who looks so much like her Daddy all at the same time that I can’t quite figure where she got any one feature. I just know she’s ours through and through.
As Abigail has been thrust more and more into the growing-uppy things that happen to kids–preschool, Sunday school,and play date kinds of things, we discovered that she is shy, sometimes painfully so. It never really surprised me all that much. Even when she was itty bitty and doing mommy and me story times and finger plays at the library she would look around wide-eyed and quiet, hunkering close to me. The facilitator would look at me with questions in her eyes wondering if there was a developmental concern and I would know there wasn’t… especially when we’d drive home and Ab would sing each and every word and do all of the finger plays after hearing them only once or twice. No the shyness and tendency to hang back and observe was no surprise. The ferocity that comes out when she feels backed into a corner and unable to maneuver in a group situation that overwhelms her has surprised me. Like I said: Sweet and fierce right from the beginning.
She’s my enigma, Ms. Abigail. She’s got all the cliché angst going on that you hear about middle children having. So often, already, I just want to pull her aside when I see the surliness rising up inside of her that I know comes from her feeling invisible or powerless as kiddos, especially middle kiddos so often do. I so often want to hold her in my arms and tell her, “Abigail, my love, you sparkle. You glow. You are my little golden girl. You are so much more than you even imagine and you are so much more cherished than I could ever express.” Even if I did that, she’d shrug it off with a dimply giggle and prance off pretending to be a pony. It wouldn’t sink in. Yet. So I try to tell her in other little ways throughout our days together.
She’s different and she’s special but sometimes she doesn’t know it.
She, even more than Carolyn, my firstborn, has taught me that even though they are my daughters–birthed out of my body, created inside of my being out of my own raw materials–they are wholly other and different entities than me. They are not an extension of myself and they will interact with and interpret the world in perspectives that are foreign to me.
My Abbie struggles so much, not yet fully realizing that she is golden… Alternating between that sweetness and fierceness. Stymieing me as a disciplinarian needing firm sternness and tenderness almost simultaneously, And I struggle too to parent her without crushing her, to give her boundaries and firmness, but also the freedom she needs to be her. To be gentle, but unyielding (even in the face of that dimple). I struggle and so often I am at a loss.
And just now… Just now, I am finally learning to pray. To pray for her. To pray for her heart. To pray for me and my heart.
And then to continue to watch my beautiful little girl unfold.