Seven years ago today we welcomed a feisty little red-head to our brood. The pediatrician we saw in the hospital said that she was the smallest baby in the nursery... with the biggest set of lungs! Not much has changed since then. ;)
It might sound strange, but I knew when I was carrying her that she was a strong spirit. I wanted her name to reflect her strength and to honor a family member (as we do so often here in the south). We decided on Jamie Ruth (after my brother who had passed away and my grandmother on my mom's side). I felt that since her name was unisex, it could hold it's own with her less than demure personality that was evident from the get-go.
Little Ruthie (as we called her in the beginning) was the antithesis of Anna's laid-back, easy going demeanor. She was a joy, don't get me wrong. But she always had this determined little furrow to her brow that accompanied her Frank-Sinatra-I'll-do-it-"My Way" attitude. It seemed that if I wanted her to go right, she'd go left just because she could.
The terrible twos were more terrible than I have time to write about here. And I'm only half-kidding. ;) She kept me on my parenting toes, so to speak, and because of that, I've read more books on strong-willed children and discipline than you can shake a stick at. I've joked in the past that if she had been my first child, she would have been my only! But as time has put a little distance between then and now, I believe that our relationship has become (among other things) a beautiful metaphor of "iron sharpening iron."
I've learned from this beautiful red-headed baby that a fiery disposition coincides with a passion for life like no other. I've learned that wearing your heart on your sleeve is really love in it's most innocent and sincere form. I've learned that though having "no filter" in your thoughts and actions might make you unpopular with others, it takes more guts to deal with the aftermath than simply being a wall-flower. I've also learned that the "wailing and gnashing of teeth" mentioned in the bible can be a typical Monday afternoon with a red-head after she's heard the words "no you may not!"
I've learned that six year olds can articulately explain the handicaps of their siblings to curious friends and neighbors as well as jump to their defense if they feel that someone is "staring" or not being sensitive enough. I've learned that when you pray to God for patience, He will send down as many practice tests as He feels is necessary until said virtue is mastered. I've learned to NEVER say "my child will never (throw a tantrum like that, eat chicken fingers morning, noon, and night, get a toy every time we go to Wal-mart, etc., etc.)... as she has inevitably done all those things and ten thousand more.
I've learned that sometimes we hurt the people we love the most because they are the ones that we can really let our hair down with. This helps me understand that I'm not always the target. Most times, I'm the safe haven. :) I've learned that letting my temper blow and getting down on a six-year-old level in an argument is lazy parenting and that you are never too old (and should never be too proud) to say you're sorry. I've learned that saying "yes" every now and again won't kill me. Sometimes it's down-right fun.
But most importantly, having Jamie has taught me that love never divides. It only multiplies. There's always enough to go around no matter how many kids you have, how many disabilities you have to deal with in a day, or how completely opposite your personality may be from your child's.
I couldn't be any more proud of my little Diva. She's following in the steps of her name-sake and exceeding all my expectations with her music. She loves the violin, plays songs on a horn by ear, and has been strumming Uncle Jamie's guitar since she was about three years old. She's inherited my obsession with Barbies and loves to cook like her dad. She has a flair for the dramatic, even with her wardrobe. I love picking out clothes for her when I shop. That girl loves her some bling! But her heart! I love her sweet heart the most. She loves deeply and openly and makes no apologies for who she is. In that sense, I wish I were more like her. Happy birthday to my sweet pumpkin pie! Momma loves you so!