Tuesday, August 24, 2010
The miracle of my daughters
When she was born a friend looked at her and said, "Oh my. Louise without teeth."
And that's where the resemblance stopped.
Alexis, my eldest daughter, was born a wise child. Thoughtful. Thorough. Conscientious. Considerate. Careful. She remembered to say thank-you without being prompted. She always looked both ways before she crossed the street, though it took her years to get to a place where she felt she was old enough to cross the street without adult supervision.
She liked to control time. She was three weeks overdue and often, after she was lifted from my open womb I would wonder if she hadn't done it on purpose. Be late that is. She wanted to control time. To make it pass at her pace. To only change the hour when she was ready.
"How old are children when you leave them alone?" she asked me once. "Oh, if it's just for a couple of hours, ten or eleven," I replied.
She considered my response and replied, "I'll be fourteen."
She's always known her mind, even if she didn't quite trust it. She's always known what she wants and she's always been conscious of her power to create from her mind a world of magic and wonder.
At twelve she created an entire fashion magazine complete with a "Dear Abby" column and fashion tips. She loved to play dress-up, to recreate costumes from movies like The Titanic and to coerce her sister into playing along, letting her create frivolous fashions out of pieces of tulle and silk and velvet that she would pull out of the dress-up box like a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat. For Alexis, a crinoline was never just a crinoline. It was the brim of a turn of the century hat, or a witches collar.
Even though her goal is to be 'on stage, life for Alexis is always about what's behind the scene. What's the meaning. Why do they do that? What can I do to change the world into a more beautiful and caring place?
Alexis is always thinking ahead. Always assessing. Always measuring. Unlike her sister, Liseanne, who at eighteen months her junior arrived two weeks early because, I swear she thought she might be missing out on something happening on the outside of the womb.
"Let's get this party going," are the first words she spoke -- not really but I'm sure if she could have said them upon exiting the womb, she would have.
She still carries that trait with her. Her "What's happening," attitude. And, if nothing's happening, she'll make it happen. It's just her way.
In Grade 9 when her teacher's went on strike she decided to fill her time by creating a dinner party. For twelve people. She rooked a girlfriend into helping out and together they prepared a five course meal complete with watermelon sorbet as a palate cleanser between courses and chocolate bowls filled with ice cream and fresh fruit for dessert.
It took many tries for the two girls to figure out that dipping a balloon into hot, hot melted chocolate was making the balloon burst but it didn't take long for her to coerce her sister into making place cards and menus as well as decorations for the table. She wanted her sister to be part of the action and she knew Alexis didn't want to cook (she still doesn't), but she knew she'd give anything to be able to create a masterpiece on the table. To make it all 'look good'.
Alexis and Liseanne in Dance Competition
They are a team. Each complementing the other. Each strengthening the other. They played together. Cried together. Held each other in moments of fear. They have laughed and joked and fought and bickered and always, always, they have loved each other totally and completely.
And did I mention -- neither are too keen on cleaning up? Though they did do a pretty good job of cleaning up the dishes and the kitchen, I was still finding hardened chocolate in hard to reach places for several weeks after the grand event.
Liseanne is of the moment. She once took a math test and in the multiple choice section answered 'C' to every question.
"What made you do that?" I asked when she showed me her 'just passing' grade.
"I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen," she replied. She paused and looked at the 51% she'd received. "I promise. I won't do that again." Another pause. Grin. "Next time I'll try answering 'B'."
Like night and day they are polar opposites and so yet so alike. They fill the ebb and flow of my heart with joy and tears and laughter and love.
Deeply caring. Soft-hearted. Deep. They love animals. They love people. They love each other.
They are inquisitive. Intelligent. Funny. Talented. They both cry at sad movies, though Liseanne will always throw in a corny line just to break the mood. It is perhaps their greatest difference. How they express their emotions.
When they were small, Alexis, the elder, was a master tantrum thrower. Her emotions coloured the sky, filled a room, emptied her tear bucket. You always knew what Alexis was feeling and you always knew her feelings ran deep.
Liseanne kept her emotions in. She seldom cried. Often didn't even shed a tear when hurt or angry. It wasn't that she was stoic. It was that she was cautious in letting others into her most private of spaces. Her heart.
When we hiked, I liked to make up stories about Mountain Annie, my alter ego hiking spirit. She was a fierce old dame, who loved those mountains who gave her fame.
The girls, enthralled to be included in my stories wanted character names of their own. I invited them to make up a name that suited them and I would make up stories to suit their names.
Alexis became, Shopping Moll.
Liseanne, Chainsaw Squirrel.
Ha! You try making up a story about a chainsawing squirrel going shoe shopping with Moll at a mall at the base of the hills where Mountain Annie roamed.
It ain't easy.
Just like being their mother -- it ain't easy but there's nothing better. Nothing or no one I'd rather be. Nothing that fills my world with more colour and beauty, joy and laughter. stars and sun than my daughters.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.
When they were born I wondered if some alien had come and stolen my mind. It was such mush. So consumed with their presence there didn't seem to be room for any other thoughts. Slowly that overwhelming feeling dissipated and I was filled with the realization that these two miraculous beings were my responsibility. In my care.
I didn't think I was mature enough. Adult enough. Careful enough to be given such an awesome responsibility. I even thought of leaving them at the hospital and asking to have them returned to me when they were all grown up so that I couldn't mess them up too much -- I was quite worried they'd never survive my parenting.
Yet, survive they did. Survived and thrived to become these incredibly spectacular young women with beautiful hearts and spirits. Young women who care deeply about each other, who are each other's best friend, who love fiercely and completely. Who are kind and considerate, thoughtful, complete human beings.
They are my daughters, children of my womb and I am blessed and the world is richer for their presence.
This story is for the Tuesday, August 24, Blog Carnival sponsored by Bridget Chumbley at One Word at a Time.
The Blog Carnival is a biweekly online event open to anyone. Participants write on a one-word prompt or topic. This week's one word is "children".
At Bridget's place you'll find a list of links to all of the contributions, which are posted throughout Tuesday and often through to the end of the week.
The Blog Carnival's FaceBook page is here.
The prompt for the next Blog Carnival, on Tuesday, September 7, is "hope". The complete schedule of prompts through the end of the year also is available at Bridget's.
Thanks again Maureen for the caption for Blog Carnival!