“How do you keep her shoes on?” a friend asked me after a car trip.
“Huh, I haven’t taught her how to take them off yet,” I responded, congratulating myself for a parenting success I hadn’t known that I’d achieved.
“Both of mine take them off,” she said, wrestling an offender back into his shoes. I continued to feel smug about this fact for a year or two, and then, well, then, I had Carys.
I think Carys took Velcro shoes as a challenge. In only moments one was off and left behind. Only one, though, she has remained true to that pattern. I did not realize how mellow my first child was until I had this one. She is very physically creative.
“Um, oh, um, you’re attached,” I hear a voice say, I turn and look over my shoulder. Carys, well strapped and safe in the Ergobaby on my back, has grabbed the roll of plastic produce bags. Since I kept walking unaware the bags had kept unrolling, a plastic strip of fishing line connecting me to the aisle of bananas behind me. My shoulders sagged, I wanted to laugh, but I couldn’t wrap my mind around how to fix it.
“Here let me help you,” a man charged up and took the bags from Carys’ arm and re-rolled them back up. Later I ran across him on my way to the check out line,
“That was a real Family Circus moment,” I smiled, remembering the cartoon. Shuddering a bit at having my life compared to a Saturday morning comic.
Every now and again a friend will coo about how similar my children look, I always find it funny because they have been such different babies. They are completely different people in my mind. But then I’ll turn around and glance at them and see the same bloomed rose bud expression on their faces when they’ve fallen asleep in their car seats.
Yesterday when I asked Emma who she wanted to pray for before her nap time she asked to pray for God and her heart. That night when I asked her who she wanted to pray for before her bed time she asked to pray for the baby’s heart and God. I have prayed for their relationship. Have prayed that they would be the best of friends, that they would love each other throughout their lives and be the closest of confidantes.
A friend in Bible Study spoke about how she was constantly compared to her sister, that both made big choices in their life to avoid appearing like their sister. With cracking voice she said that to this day her mother still makes comparisons. I sat in silence, fearing the worst. We compare our girls all the time. Carys can’t know yet, but Emma is old enough to hear. Emma was such a calm and serene one year old, and Carys is turning into a complete handful. One might see one as ‘bad’ and the other as ‘good.’ I don’t. I love that Emma will sit and calmly color and read books for hours. I love that Carys is a handful, I can’t wait to see what it will turn into as she grows. Will they know that? Will they know that I love their sameness? Will they know that I love their differences?
Do we need to stop? It’s so easy to look and compare. To laugh at myself because I thought I was such a good parent, and really it was just her. To look at our children and love, with eyes glancing back and forth, bouncing between wonder and wonder. Is it bad to compare, can it only come to feelings of resentment? Can it be celebrated and done in a way that makes each child feel unique and bonded to the other one? What do you think?