Toddlers grow. They change almost daily, maturing and learning, regressing, and passing through all sorts of phases. One moment they're climbing stairs by themselves, or asking for a blanket at night and saying "Goodnight, Mama" as you leave the room. The next moment they fall down and cry and want to be rocked in your arms like a little baby again. It is so hard to keep up, when they are neither kid nor baby but somewhere in between.
Amaliya has been going through a period of intense shyness for the last few months. New things scare the daylights out of her. She is especially wary of new places, or crowds of people she doesn't know (even crowds of people she does know make her nervous, sometimes). Her daddy brought her home a pair of fairy wings this week, but every time she saw them she would vigorously shake her head "no," back away, and cry hysterically if we tried to bring them close to her.
I understand. She is only just realizing that the world is larger than Mama and Daddy and grandparents and daycare and the grocery store, and the knowledge overwhelms her. She can predict us, her family, but the world outside is full of unknowns. She doesn't have the words or the understanding to make sense of explanations. So she buries her face in my neck and wishes it all away.
Things have been better lately, though. Mostly thanks to the unique empathy of eight- and nine-year-old girls, a couple of whom we are privileged to know. These girls take her by the hand and lead her away from me to play strange little games, explaining themselves gently, speaking in soft little-girl voices and seeming to understand her soft incoherent-toddler replies. I see her bloom in front of them, her eyes meeting theirs and the sunshine of her smile breaking through. I am grateful for the presence of little girls in our lives.
Watching Amaliya overcome her fears has helped me to overcome some of my own lately.
I entered 2014 rather tentatively. I was afraid to reach out, afraid to act, because it felt like so much of my life was out of my control. I've spent a lot of time, since Amaliya was born, just waiting for things to happen to me. Waiting for other people's efforts to pay off and change my circumstances. I was afraid to step out and seek change for myself because I felt that everything had to line up just so before I could try.
Somewhere along the way - at the end of January, when I put myself on a training plan and started really focusing on my running goals - I had an epiphany of sorts. I was tired of waiting for circumstances to align in my favor, sick of feeling like, as a woman with a family and hefty responsibilities, I wasn't permitted to take any risks. I realized that I was stunting my own joy for no reason. When I got honest with myself, it occurred to me that I am not actually afraid of risk, rejection, or being open and vulnerable. I was simply not used to taking control, reaching out to the amazing support network that surrounds me, and making things work. That had to change.
I've dedicated myself to regular posting on this blog, and have plans to expand it in the near future. I trained for and PR'd at a half marathon. I walked up to a stranger and asked him, point blank, what it would take for me to work for him. I applied for, and WON, a space on a team to run the Ragnar Relay in Napa Valley this fall.
I am not letting fear or insecurity stand in my way anymore. I am making things happen.
My daughter is my inspiration in this and in all things. Every time I see her, still so new to the world, semi-verbal with a still-growing brain, take the hand of a new friend and step out, in faith, on her own... I am proud. She is nervous, she is unsure, but she's trying new things and building new relationships every day.
She's making things happen. We all are. Together.