“Wow, she is so happy! I bet she’s an easy baby!” I smiled politely as an acquaintance made this comment of my 4 month old daughter. I replied, “she’s very passionate – so she’s either passionately happy or passionately not. But she is a sweetheart, and I love her differences and what she brings to our family.”
As I think about my go-to reply, I find myself reminiscing of the first few weeks with her – those nights I found myself crying from exhaustion, wondering if I was cut out for this.
Since day one, Emmaline has been nothing like her older sister. I was caught off guard by my seemingly unnoticeable pregnancy, making my fellow 1st trimester moms jealous as I was eating almost everything I saw. And even though I had to have an emergency induction with Rylie, Emmaline decided to come into the world on her own.
I honestly believed that baby care was going to be exactly the same. That it wasn’t until she was almost a year old that I would start to notice differences in my children. Similar to her big sister, Rylie, I assumed Emmaline was going to start sleeping through the night at 7 weeks, nursing was going to be much easier this round, and overall she would be a low key infant. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was not the case and Emmaline was nothing like her sister. Emmaline would scream crying every night at exactly 10pm out of nowhere and we would do everything in attempts to console her – feed (which she quickly rejected), change her diaper, swaddle, rock, bounce, hold outwards, sit upright, work with her to get gas out, the list goes on. 7 weeks came and went and my little girl was still waking up multiple times a night. Although she ate a full bottle, she snacked when I nursed her, forcing us to become an exclusively pumping family to ensure she would get a full tummy. I was a confused, exhausted mess wondering when it would end and questioning how I was supposed to do this until it did.
Over time, certain preferences of hers became evident. When her sweet smile would turn into a heavy bottom lip that would inevitably morph into a cry, we could normally break it down into three different problems – she was hungry (she often ate at random times with varying amounts – all based on her amount of hunger in that moment), she was tired, or she had a dirty diaper (we eventually learned that if there was a drop of pee in her diaper, she would burst into tears). But ultimately, when my sweet little girl turned 3 months old, I felt like God dropped a little nugget in my heart, and it changed everything. It changed the way I saw my daughter. It changed the way I saw myself as a mother. It changed the way I saw my job as a parent.
“Embrace her differences.”
My husband and I agreed early on that our family would have “across the board” rules. It didn’t matter if you were the oldest or youngest child, boy or girl, you had to adhere to the same rules that we would set in stone early on to eliminate confusion. I mention this because I had unintentionally transferred this same rule into my children’s personalities. I expected Emmaline to be the same as Rylie, which was a huge disservice to her because that meant I wasn’t acknowledging her gifts. What I failed to see was that even at this young age, God was showing me Emmaline’s giftings.
As an infant, this means that she cries loudly when she’s hungry or doesn’t want you sit down because she likes walking around with you. But as an adult, I can see her loving others, craving knowledge and working hard to pursue her calling, and passionately loving our God.
Emmaline also brought out different strengths in my motherhood. She taught me that you can be the same mom to each child, but each child will require different parts of you. And what a blessing that is. I love that I get to have a different kind of relationship with her than I will have with Rylie. That I get to foster and encourage different parts of her heart.
So Mama, whether you are holding your first baby or you are pregnant with number six, know that you are an amazing mother and your children love you and they love the you that was made specifically for them. You have what they need, so never tell yourself you have nothing to offer them. God gave them to you because you have exactly what they need! Embrace that. Embrace their differences. Embrace YOUR differences. Because what makes you different makes you valuable!