The Same But Different

“Differences were meant by God not to divide but to enrich.”  ― J.H. Oldham

Lately I've been struggling with my feelings about motherhood, more particularly the way I find myself struggling with Molly in a way that I don't with Anna Cate.  Molly fights me on almost everything and I'm at a loss to know what works for her, either in terms of affection or discipline.  But in my opening up to a couple older mother about this, I left myself open for a revelation I received Sunday.  
Ever since I laid on the table when I was 20 weeks pregnant and saw that I was having a little girl, I was so excited to "do this again." I think I simple-mindedly thought having a second girl meant we got to have a similar experience, and when I couldn't recreate the same experiences for Molly that I did for Anna Cate, I felt guilty.  I often wonder what I'm doing wrong, how I can connect more and have found myself fearing that I would favor Anna Cate over Molly because I understand Anna Cate so deeply. I could feel our family becoming cliche with labels and I wanted that for none of us.  

Yesterday, as I sat snuggling with Anna Cate in an auditorium as we watched the Nutcracker I thought, "I hope I get to do this with Molly." And in the splitting of a second, a wave of healing understanding flooded my soul. I won't be doing anything AGAIN. I will be loving, understanding, exploring with, and experiencing this journey with Molly on her journey, not following in the footsteps of a journey Anna Cate and I take, even though the loving, understanding, exploring and experiencing may look the same.

 I realize that I've been looking at my mothering of Molly through the only lense I knew how to use -- the one I use for Anna Cate. And, in my defense why would I not want to do it the same? But Molly's little soul deserves a fresh outlook. I have given myself the freedom to see that this experience with Molly is her own, this experience of mothering her is mine alone in a totally different way, and it is ok.  Mothering to Molly is as fresh and unchartered as it was with Anna Cate. How foolish I was to think I would be doing this again!
While Anna Cate's gifts abound, so do Molly's  (as do their struggles) and it is my sacred task to learn from both of them, while relying on what I know about love, discipline, faith and health -- the tenants of my values.  This weekend, I opened up my heart to confront my fears, and in this space of vulnerablity I have realized it was my limited perspective that left me inadequate, not my feelings for Molly.  

So Molly doesn't do things to please others, she doesn't want to sit in Santa's lap, and rations out her kisses and hugs with methodical calculation. But she is precious, charming, funny and quick-witted and deserving of my newfound energy and resolve to be the best mother I can, which doesn't have to look or feel the same way it does with Anna Cate. God made me a mother twice, and in my gratitude for experiencing motherhood twice, I will enjoy, struggle with, love, make mistakes, create and recreate relationships with each and both of my girls.
Since learning Molly was a girl, I've mistakenly looked at her as our second girl.
It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.  ~Henry David Thoreau


Kim Cannon said…
That was just beautiful!!!! It brought a tear to my eyes...b/c you are so RIGHT!! What a great reflector you are my dear!!!
Laura. said…
Sarah, words fail to express how excited I am for you to have had this realization NOW! Molly is still so young and there is still so. much. space. for the two of you to define your relationship in a unique way that is meaningful to both of you and not colored by tempers, frustration, and (later on) silence and distance.
Everything you wrote I can totally relate to. My two girls are so different, and everything about mothering them has to be different, too. I'm also similar in that I understand Avery much more naturally than I understand Ella. But at the same time, Avery's similarities to me can sometimes be their own source of frustration, so it sort of evens out. :) It is so hard to create unique experiences with each of them, especially with the second kid, who didn't get the one-on-one time with mom that the first got. As soon as that second kid arrives, your attention is divided. Love multiplies, but attention and time are limited commodities. I remember mourning for Ella that she'd never get that same undivided attention from me that Avery got. But at the same time, Avery didn't have the sibling love and connection and attention from birth that Ella got. Neither is better, just different. Thanks for this post, Bates. It's a good reminder to make sure I stay focused on each individual relationship with my kids. Not a simple task. :)
Whitney said…
I agree and relate with your comments so much. I think so many of us parents look at it as doing it "again" when in fact, you are starting all over. Molly will understand - she is the 2nd child.

Read Momastery's newest blog. Such similarity.

I love you!
Whitney said…
I agree and relate with your comments so much. I think so many of us parents look at it as doing it "again" when in fact, you are starting all over. Molly will understand - she is the 2nd child.

Read Momastery's newest blog. Such similarity.

I love you!