As the days pass and Eleanor becomes a little bigger, a little less of me, a little more of her, I've been realizing more and more how what we're doing now with her truly has lifelong implications. The things Chris and I teach her, intentionally or unintentionally, will have a lasting impact on her personality, sense of self-worth, and ability to understand and handle the situations this life throws at her. For awhile there, 9 or 10 months depending on who you ask (or a thousand years, which is what it felt like to me in my partially bed-ridden, nausea-filled state), we were one in the same. To me, she didn't have much of a personality, didn't kick too much, just rolled over and stretched her limbs, didn't have a gender or a name and was just part of who I was at the time.
Now she's got an entire life outside me. She is starting to figure things out like how to hold her toes, how to play with other babies, how to sit on her own and be an independent little human. I am treading a fine line of trying to figure out how much of myself to give her and how much independence she needs to figure herself out, apart from me (and Chris).
It seems crazy because she's not quite five months old yet, but when I see her do something she's never done before (which is happening all the time these days), I realize that it may not be as crazy as I originally thought. All that is to say that right now I'm trying to figure out what I want for her and then focus my actions and behaviors in order to nurture those traits in her...
I want our girl to be confident, flexible, self-sufficient, kind, and free of judgement toward others. I want her to be able to see past others' choices, lifestyles, and shortcomings in order to love and accept them just as they are simply because they're another human being in this together with all of us, because that's what Jesus teaches, and quite honestly, because it's just a good way to live. I want her to be forgiving, and giving of herself and her resources. I want her to trust others, but at the same time, know caution and wisdom in her relationships, the strength of recovery when one of us breaks that trust and the ability to move on without bitterness when this life calls for that. I want her to own her faith, to question and seek answers, and to live what she believes. Mostly, I want her heart to be full, and to know herself well enough to know how to fill it when it's not.
There are a million other things I want for her, but I don't want to seem pretentious being that E is still just a baby who is working on how to pull her socks off and roll over and could care less at this point about things like forgiveness and faith. That being said, I'm not naive enough to think that these qualities are inherent and will develop on their own regardless of the example I set. She copies actions that she's capable of copying already, and I can imagine how much more so she will copy behaviors of mine as she learns them. What an enormous and exciting responsibility!