She's our 'practice' kid. She's the one who we think we have to be perfectly consistent with. We're scared we might ruin her otherwise. We are least lenient with her, though she's without question the most responsible. We have the highest of high standards for her. And she consistently lives up to them and in fact, raises the bar time and time again. But every now and then, the first-born in me revolts just a little over all this. Of course, the way we parent her creates a prototypical firstborn and she wouldn't be Anabel without it all, but sometimes I wish the world could be a little less exacting for her sake. Sometimes I wish she would come home with a B+, or even a B. I think it would be healthy for her to see that life doesn't hinge on one's sustained perfection. I think that for her to make a colossal Blunder (capital B) might not be the worst thing in the world for her, so long as it doesn't involve me housing and parenting a newborn belonging to her and some Idiot Boy, around whom I'll grit my teeth and try never to refer to as such (o I pray this theoretical boy stays far, far away from me and mine). Maybe Anabel would see then that her worth doesn't depend on her performance.
So clearly though, she wouldn't be Anabel without the precise environment she's been raised in. And she's so perfectly, greenly herself. She's awash in a world of calm competence, almost as though she's underwater in a perfect, green world where serenity surrounds and permeates everything. Her fair skin - in sharp contrast to the brown, brown skins of her siblings - looks like its origins are translucently submarine. She glides through life, making everything look effortless and even elegant. Sometimes though, she limits herself in the things she'll try, as she likes to know beforehand that she'll be gracefully perfect. I like to lend her my clothes and jewelry as they look so beautiful on her; feasting my eyes on my own clothes folding around my daughter's perfect little (but not so little anymore) body brings me far more joy than owning these items for my own sake.
I always wondered how it would feel as an aging mother, to watch as one's daughter grew to be more beautiful and better in ways the World values than oneself. The One ebbs while the Other flows. I used to wonder if felt like a stabbing pain or more like a dull, under-the-skin ache that doesn't subside. The growing obsoleteness of the woman seemed pitiful to me before I became her. And now that life unfurls to find me here, this very woman, I'm reminded of Jesus' words in John 3:30. They say, "He must become greater; I must become less," and I'm surprised by the joy they bring in their wake. To see the world receive my Little Love so beautifully, so enthusiastically even, makes me feel a deep happiness. I see so clearly now that it's not either/or. It's both and all and everything all at once.