Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Clementine Turns Eight
I started this blog because I was losing my grandma to Alzheimer's; the first time she didn't recognize me, in fact, I was pregnant with you. She had always been such a safe person for me. I was in pain; I wanted her back; I wanted access to all her memories, again, and it was too late.
I was filled with an indescribable longing to write myself down for you children against the day that you lose me. So here we are. I would tell you I've changed so much over these six years of blogging, but I suspect it's closer to the truth to say I haven't changed much at all but that, instead, I've come to understand myself so much better.
I've come to understand that a big part of me has been stuck at age eight: your brand-new age. I started to figure this out after experiencing your baptism, which filled me with a dread I hadn't anticipated. It would've been convenient to chalk my emotional state up to "weeping with joy," but I recognized that as a lie. I was frustrated: why did your accepting Christ feel heavy to me in a way that your older brother's profession of faith had not? I turned the question over and over in my mind. It took a long time for me to know, but when I knew, I knew for certain.
I accepted Christ within the same year of my first sexual interactions, also the same year of two great-grandmothers' deaths. I was eight years old. I wasn't baptized until I was about twelve, but your baptism was triggering for me, and thank goodness, as I was granted some time to prepare for your turning eight.
Now, you are. Eight. Sometimes we are eye-to-eye eight. We were selling Girl Scout cookies in front of Walmart the other day, and you ran over to the other table for a piece of pizza. After you returned, I asked you to fetch me a piece. "No," you said. "You didn't get me a piece, so I'm not going to get you one."
Just like that, I was bested. "Fair enough," I muttered, and went after my own piece of pizza. Later, I was, like: what was that? I'd been helping you sell cookies since 9am, and I let you get away with refusing to get me a piece of pizza? You're not unkind as a rule; I watch you with animals and much younger children. But I think you smell the eight-year-old on me as surely as a dog smells fear. We go around and around and always have. You have your daddy's stink eye and, at times, a ferocious bark.
You are creative and strong, so strong. I think you could in time lead an army or a country, but you must continue to grow in body and spirit. You must refine your leadership skills. I'm here to make sure you don't get stuck. I'm learning to parent both of us; forgive me for my failings. I love you, and I love no one more than I love you. I am devoted to you; you have, after all, been one of my greatest teachers.