She's just like me.
She has my brown eyes and my dark blonde hair. She's also got my stubborn personality and my sensitive heart. We are two of a kind, but it can get rocky, the relationship between Ella and I.
I could feel our relationship changing this past year as she grew, matured, and became more independent. A new stage for her and a new stage for me. That dated picture of her on my sidebar is a vision from the past - now there is a pretty young girl with grown up teeth and her own story to tell.
I can round up a group of toddlers with the best of them, folks - but parent a tender, growing girl? That's been a change for me.
It's that transition from needing me to do things for her, to needing me to just be there for her. To listen about her day, talk about something mean that was said at school, or answer questions about this and that.
You know, when they go from physically demanding to emotionally demanding. It's a new phase for me in my journey of motherhood.
This past year it seemed that the connection between us started to change. The busyness of chasing younger kids out of the bathroom after covering the floor in soap, the potty training, the homework, and trying to tend to everyone's needs - all of that can consume a mothers energy.
Ella started to become more my helper, and less my baby. A bittersweet thing.
I hated it. And I wrestled inside with the changes as she challenged me more and as I tried to control the budding personality from my baby that is now almost a 3rd grader.
Sassiness, she's got it. She's just like me, remember :)??
I've learned that you have to push through every new (sometimes rough) season to build the relationship that God wants you to have with your child...
My mom tells me, "She's just feelin' her oats". And she's right, all kids do. They need to know the boundaries. And they need a lot of attention and molding.
Right before we left for Portland I was telling some girlfriends how this trip would be a stretch for me - in a sense, it was going to take me out of my comfort zone. Instead of chasing the youngin's all day, I was going to be alone with a little girl that needed a refreshed connection with her mother.
And somewhere between the flight there and the flight home, a new bond was born.
Between eating pizza in bed, facing unknown territory together, and being somewhere where we only had each other, God opened my eyes.
I saw a little girl that will be turning 18 instead of 8 before I know it. I skipped ahead to a time when she will experience her first heartbreak over a boy, and she will need another night of pizza in bed while we talk and rebuild what was broken. I saw that someday she will fly somewhere to see her friends, be with her man, or pursue a career. He reminded me that these fleeting moments when she is curled up next to me needs to be soaked up as much as possible...
She listens to everything I'm saying, even though she pretends like she's not. She needs my attention and my approval, even though she acts like she doesn't. And she needs me ready and willing to listen, even when she doesn't feel like talking.
She's a sweet, sweet gift. She's caring, loving, adventurous, and has taken on responsibility that is beyond her years.
This raising kids thing is a challenge, there is always a new phase to adjust to. But it's so worth it.
So here's to more mother/daughter dates, nail painting, and time away with my growing girl - even if it's just a walk around the block :).