Note: I wrote this piece a few months ago, but then I let it sit in my ever-growing “Unfinished Posts” file. Even since I first wrote it, Kristen continues to mature. Today she expertly handled the rest of the crew, taking them through science, spelling, and a family read-aloud while I had to make an unexpected trip to the dentist with Jonathan who had cracked a molar on a frozen chocolate chip cookie. What a blessing it is to have older children!
When people ask me if I think it is harder to raise girls or boys I invariably answer, “Girls. Except for potty training.” The chief reason I think this is true is because girls are much more emotional beings than boys right from the get-go. Now of course, this is not universal; there are emotional boys and steady girls. Still, at almost all ages girls tend to have a wider range of emotions and express them more freely than do boys.
In my vast experience (ha ha – ask me what I think again in 20 years when we have finished raising everyone to maturity!) the most difficult years for a girl growing up are the early adolescent ones. Maybe because of hormonal changes, emotions flip-flop all over the place. Sometimes it is impossible to even guess what has set one off. But fourteen is better than thirteen, which is better than twelve. As we keep walking with them, gently guiding, instructing, reproving, and loving our daughters through the rough periods, by God’s grace they will grow up to be beautiful women of God.
Our third child, Kristen, who incidentally is 14, did not look forward to being the oldest at home this year with her two older siblings away at college. I’m sure part of this reticence came from watching Kara last year as she carried an exceedingly heavy load at home during the crisis time around Ben’s birth and early months. But now Kristen knew it was going to be her turn to step up and assume extra responsibilities. In hindsight, we’ve realized that she felt more pressure than we’ve intended, and we do try to not overextend her. But this year has been good for her.
Watching Kristen mature in so many ways this year has been heartening. While a bad day in math or Latin can still make her dissolve into tears, she is learning to control herself more and more. And often, now when her emotions get the better of her, she is able to see herself what is going on, get over it much faster, and even laugh at herself. Now rather than chafe about being the oldest, she sometimes just offers to babysit out of the blue so Tim and I can go on a date. And she has such a wonderful relationship with Ben, whom she often swaddles (yes, still!) and puts to sleep for his naps. He loves to climb down the stairs to her basement room to just hang with her. Kristen was the first one Ben would lavish with kisses, and is his favorite target to attack with tickles.
Until recently, Kristen had two blogs. One was her public blog in which she posts sort of silly things; the other blog was for her more private thoughts, and she only shared this blog address with a select few. (She’s found a new way around this issue. J ) Here’s a post she put on the second blog after spending a full day caring for the children (Tim stayed home to help too) while I was at the state homeschool convention. I found it so encouraging. If you have young daughters, take heart. Maturity comes, one step at a time. (Oh, and Kristen has given me permission to talk about her here, and to post her blog piece.)
Wow what a day yesterday was. My mom went to the state home-school convention about an hour and a half away. That left Daddy and me in charge of everything for the day. Well, actually it wasn’t that bad. I skipped school since TPS is on break and I was ahead of my other stuff. I did most of school with the kids and then Daddy read and read to them while I made lunch. After the littlest kids were in bed and the others playing quietly, I went downstairs to clean the basement with my baby brother. I live in the basement and when I finished, I went into my room. I had my back turned, looking for something on the bookcase, but turned when my little brother started chattering more than was normal. When I did turn, I saw that he had my lip gloss and had eaten the rest of it. He also drew on my walls with a purple marker. You know, he may be cute, but he sure is troublesome. I turned him over to Daddy while I made bread for dinner. It would have been fine if I had chosen a good recipe, but I didn’t and there was way too much flour in it. But it wasn’t a total disaster, so that was good.
Mummy got home in the evening with lots of awesome books. And for all of you who haven’t read it yet, you should read the book “Prisoners of Hope” by Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer with Stacy Mattingly. It’s about the two women who were kidnapped in Afghanistan right before 9-11-01. It has some awesome, but horrible pictures in it of some Afghan children and scenery and medical conditions. It just makes your heart go out to these people who have been suffering from the Taliban’s rule for so many years and now have a chance at freedom. Women no longer have to be so tied up in cloth that they can’t see properly to do their normal, everyday chores. It makes our problems seem petty when you read about these people and you really want to go and help them. So next time when you have thinking about how terrible it is that your computer isn’t working, say, think about women in Afghanistan who purposely burn themselves to escape an abusive husband, or a life of poverty or rejection. And pray for them. It’ll make you feel so much better if you don’t focus on yourself but on others.