For her entire life, she's been the baby. The rosebud-lipped, sweet-cheeked baby; the darling littlest one. The girl who holds hands as if it's a lifeline to continued closeness. The girl who would snuggle for hours if busyness didn't intervene. There is still that special smell at the very top of her head that makes me remember her when she actually was a baby. And the curve of her cheek is still sweet...
But now that I have her to myself for so many more hours each week, uninterrupted by an (inadvertent) attention-stealing older sister, I see clearly. The gauzy curtains over my eyes are swept away and I see this little girl who is not a baby but will forever be my baby. I see her, so tall and strong and imaginative.
When I look at her now, it is not always against the backdrop of a big sister and it is not shadowed by babyish expectations. She carries her own weight. She speaks thoughtfully and with freedom. She is a big girl, and a force to be understood without preconceived expectations.
Because the expectations -- quiet, reserved, yielding, passive, tiny, scattered -- are giving way to much more visible truths, now that I can see her. Enthusiastic, expressive, decisive, growing, fluttery, feminine, thinking, loving, carefree, creative; THESE are the true shades of Lauren that had been hiding behind baby.
These are the pieces that sometimes got lost in the shuffle. In the conversations dominated by older topics. In the games chosen by bigger kids. In the life lived by tagging along.
And the reality is that there will always be this unveiling. Years might pass during which I expect her to be one sort of person only to realize that she was changing all along. Family dynamics will force me to see through lenses that are sometimes clouded. Personalities will expand and contract moment by moment, day by day.
But the unveiling...it could become a daily ritual. To look with eyes that will see, as soon as she comes into my view. To look at my whole family with eyes that will see. Because they're all too beautiful and colorful and dynamic to be categorized once, forever more.