My Spirited Child
I have a few Willow Tree figurines that have meaning to me. Of the many Willow Tree figurine there are, six are children sitting in different poses. Each child is labeled by a prominent characteristic. Each of the Willow Tree children matched the personalities of my own children. So I collected all six. My sons are in this order Inquisitive, Caring, Imaginative. My middle daughter is Joyful, and my youngest daughter is Thoughtful. Today I am going to talk about my oldest daughter, Denae. My Spirited child. And that, she is.
When I thought about starting a family, I wanted a dude ranch full of boys. I don’t recall ever having a number in mind of how many children I wanted. I just knew I wanted all boys. I had did have two boys when Denae was born. She was the third child of six, and the last to be born in a hospital. When I saw her, I fell in love all over again. God has designed the human heart in a most extraordinary way. When you wonder how you have enough love to love another child, He just opens it up, and the love just gushes out all over the place. I was so very happy with my little girl.
What a doll Denae was! Blue eyes and the curliest blonde hair. As she got older and was playfully teased by her older brothers, she would let out a shrill with a pitch so high that you wondered how all the glass in the cabinets didn’t break or how your ears didn’t bleed. I still haven’t heard another human replicate that sound. The shrill, though, was always followed by the cutest little giggles.
When I had complications with the next pregnancy and had to stay in bed most of the time, Denae spent much time with a family member. Honestly, we see now that wasn’t in her best interest. She and I started out being close but gradually we became more distant the older she got. Our relationship wasn’t always bad. It was more of a challenge at times. We just didn’t have the closeness I wanted in our mother/ daughter relationship.
As time went on, and she began her teenage years, she became extraordinarily strong. I’m not talking about her physical strength, although she could definitely hold her own. She was a feisty little thing. And still is. But I’m referring to her will, her determination.
We would butt heads more than I care to remember. But we sure could laugh together too. She has a great sense of humor, as do all of my kids. Laughter was magic in our family. It was healing.
When she was about 17, things began to change for the better. She finally felt she could trust me. There were intentions by another person to keep us apart. It’s a long difficult story. But finally…we started connecting. We talked a lot. We broke down together and she shared deep things with me. It was then we regained the mother/ daughter relationship that we both wanted so badly. Our bond was renewed and has grown even stronger since. But one day she told me something no parent really wants to hear. “I’m moving away.”
I was so torn. And mad. Circumstances here were driving her away. Was it in her best interest to leave, or should she stay and try to work through stuff here? I could ponder those questions and more, but that girl was determined to leave. We talked about it in great detail. She wanted to go, but didn’t know where. We talked about Chicago. We have friends there with whom she could stay and they could keep an eye on her. So that’s what she decided.
Where did her baby days go? And where was my little curly-headed girl with the high-pitch squeal? The little one who talked nonstop? Time went so fast. Too fast. How could it be this time of letting go already? My heart was breaking.
I remember that hot day in July when I helped to pack her car. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. We said our tearful goodbyes and she drove off, never to live here again. So what would you do in such a state of heartbreak like that? Well, I went to the park to run. And I ran and I ran. The temperature was 103 degrees, as we were experiencing an intense heat wave at that time. But I continued to run until finally I got very sick. It was a stupid thing to do but sometimes I just needed to run. My heart was so sad. I finally got her back, only to let her go.
So this girl of mine found a waitressing job quite a distance from where she was staying. She worked diligently. She managed her money well and within two months was able to rent an apartment closer to work. Gradually, she worked her way up into management. Through all of this never once did she complain about how hard it was. She never asked for money, or even help. She was determined to make it work on her own, and she did.
Then one day, Denae met a man and they fell in love. They are married now and have a beautiful little girl. She is an amazing mom and wife. She cherishes the life she built. And she did it all on her own. I am so proud of her.
When I think about how this little backward, homeschooled, country girl left the backwoods of nowhere, in search of a new life in a place so very big and unfamiliar, I can’t help but admire her. I had dreams of my own but was too afraid and unsure to make them come true. But not Denae. She had the dreams and the strength to accomplish whatever she needed to do. She did everything I wanted to do, plus more. I’ve learned so much about strength and perseverance from her.
I think about the days when she was just learning to walk. It was her first step toward independence. Mommas and daddies, don’t rush for your little ones to grow up. They will hold your hand one day as they take those first unsure steps, and then the next day, they are walking to their car and driving to Chicago to make a life of their own. Cherish every moment with your kids. Never take for granted that there is always a tomorrow. Today is all we have.
Be grateful for your children. ♥️
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