Monday, July 12, 2010
I am so, so grateful that Jo is the one I walk through most "firsts" with. She is a resilient, confident, no-nonsense girl. Not much given to the drama that her age and gender often implies, my Jo has a huge helping of that special something that God seems to bestow sparingly. Call it chutzpah, call it poise ... whatever name it goes by, it almost always guarantees that Jo will come out shining, on top, and ready to go another round with whatever life dishes out.
Jo knows herself in a way that I didn't quite manage until well after my twenty-third birthday; even then, I'm pretty sure that backpedaled and wrangled with my emotions far more than she does. She is not conceited--but her confidence and ability to remain above the bickerings and posturings of her fellow junior high cronies can easily be misconstrued as such. Who, after all, expects a girl just shy of her 13th birthday to be invited to the pool party of the summer, to weigh the option and quickly decide that it's not for her? How else to take that firm, "No, thanks," if not as some kind of "above it all" attitude?
Not much given towards being defined by her peers, what's popular, or how things appear, Jo has remained pretty much the same practical-yet-sweet girl that she was at 6, 8, 10. Each year, the naysayers give me a wink and a nod and assure me that this, this is the year that my Jo will turn into the stereotypical teenager with a chip on her shoulder and a growing dislike for everything that Mr. Blandings and I stand for. They promise me that being with her friends will become her favorite past time, and that she will most likely threaten a starvation diet unless we cave in and give her a facebook account, a cell phone, her own lap top, more freedom.
It hasn't happened yet.
Yes, yes, we've seen changes. Jo is no longer as big a fan of her daddy's playful banter as she once was. (We gave her a code phrase to let him know when his teasing has gone too far. It seems to have helped.) She no longer feels the compulsion to play the rowdy games her younger brothers engage in. She prefers a good book to watching soccer with the family, although she doesn't mind bringing her book along so that she can be part of the crowd. And, of course, her morning prep time has skyrocketed, much to the annoyance of everyone else who shares that particular bathroom.
But along with these changes have come a firestorm of "firsts" that I never anticipated. A growing sense of purpose and joy in life. A vision for a future that holds so much. An ability to think far, far beyond today. A desire to see beyond one's self. And, for me ... well, a deepening of our mother/daughter relationship that has filled me in a way I never knew I would experience.
I have no idea what the future holds for and with Jo. But hear this, all of you moms of young girls who look ahead to the pre- and teen years with a growing sense of fear and dread: it doesn't need to be all drama and horror and gnashing teeth. Watching the blossoming of a young woman is, perhaps, one of the greatest gifts the Lord has given me to date. Embrace it.