Elanor is Eight
Eight years ago today, I was in labor with my firstborn, Elanor. She came into the world that night screaming and cried a lot after that for months. She and I survived each other, and Dan survived us both. It was a humbling time, being a first-time mother. Our plans to teach her to eat and sleep on schedule did not work (they still don’t). I did my best to screw up breastfeeding by following the plan in the Ezzo book On Becoming Babywise (or, as Sheila Stubbs so aptly puts it, “Unbecoming Baby Lies”). But Ellie wasn’t about to fit into a schedule or a program. One thing I did right was to keep breastfeeding (it was easy, although I missed the joy because of my legalism), and God put people around me (Terri) who kept me from certain death.
There have been many other such scenarios; the first months of Elanor’s life were just the beginning how we push and pull at each other with our personalities.
Oh, my girl. I am so sorry. Maybe a lot of mothers feel this way about their firstborns. As I think over the eight years of Elanor’s life, what overwhelms me the most is grace. After all I’ve done to screw things up (because I thought I knew best), she still hangs in there with me.
She’s not always right, even though she thinks she is. Somehow her ebullient spirit has not been quashed. Last week at her second-grade program, she was an absolute star, confident, expressive, happy, so fun to watch. She got to sing a short solo AND do the final reading, and she rocked it. She asks questions now, at eight years old, that it took me at least another decade to grapple with: If dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, and it took God six days to create the world, and there aren’t any dinosaurs now, how can that be? And why aren’t there very many girls in the Bible? I know, those are biggies. And she wants to be baptized. She really does get it.
I try not to giggle when her teacher says she needs to have two chapters of a book read by the end of the week, because the truth is she probably already has the whole book read, and waiting for everyone else to catch up is torturous. She thinks conversations about chile peppers are interesting and doesn’t get squeamish about insects. She wants to live on a farm someday with lots of animals and nature all around. And she just got an award for trustworthiness.
She wants me to homeschool her (I do, too). If that is the case, I can’t have screwed up our relationship too badly, I hope. Of course, sometimes I don’t understand anything! (she tearfully says in our Moments). I have to steel myself to withstand those storms, and I have a feeling they’re not going to calm down anytime soon. Did I create the problems? Maybe. I’m sure I’ve created some of them. Ann Lee told me, when Elanor was just a couple months old, “You are the best mother you know how to be.” That spoke grace to me. I had already screwed up seriously, but it was true: I WAS doing my best. And thank God, even with all my mess-ups, she still shines. She still loves God. She still loves me, and Dan, and Jonathan.
I am so proud of my sparkling Elanor. Her name means “light,” and she is that.