Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy 9th Birthday to my Beautiful Daughter Who Doesn’t Share My DNA But Shares So Many Other Things

As my little one completed her 9th trip around the sun, I find myself considering how much we credit to DNA.  This is something my daughter and I don’t share.  And because of that, our difference are pretty obvious.  She is petite; I am tall.  She has brown skin; I have white.  My hair is wavy blond and eyes are green; her hair is curly black and eyes just this side of black.  
But we have a lot in common too.  Is it nature?  Is it fate? Or is it some combination of things I can’t explain?  Whatever the reason, we enjoy sharing these special connections.

We LOVE experimenting with hair and clothes.  I recall all my crazy hair styles and outfits from my youth as I watch my daughter follow that path with her own exploration.  I have become the hair model for many of her efforts.  We also found her a hair model doll which I would have loved to have when I was a girl.  Her style is a bit more dance diva where mine was eclectic model.  But our goal to use our hair and clothes as a means of expression is the same.  I chuckled in appreciation recently when I saw she had used scarves to create a long thick braid tied around her high pony tail.  We make a funny sight as she will happily do my hair in all place including public ones like a basketball game.

We value peace and inclusion at a cellular level.  Leyla and I both want to make people feel welcome and included.  We like to have everyone get along; whether it be family or friends. This is often easier said than done.  When our efforts aren't successful, we take it personally.  We then talk about how the other person might have viewed the situation and what we could do different next time.

We ADORE animals.  We love them, whether it be our beautiful papillions, our conure, the cats that wander through our yard, or fish in our pond.  I had a zoo's worth of stuffed animals of all kinds as a child and Leyla has topped me.  There is barely room for her little body in her bed.  We watch animals shows on TV.  On safari in Kenya, we were both enthralled with getting to jump into the scenes with these most amazing creatures in real life (except for the time when the monkeys came to "share" our hot chocolate or the lioness seemed like she was going to "join" us in our vehicle because we got too close to her and her baby).

We strive to interact above our linear years.  I was called wise beyond my years as a kid.  I enjoyed adult conversations and hanging out with older, either in years or life experience, people and exploring deep topics.  This desire is heightened for Leyla as the youngest with quite the gap between her and her brothers.  She also has had to make sense of a complex life situation which I think has increased her desire to gain insight into the WHY of human choices and behaviors.

Dancing makes us happy.   Somehow moving to music always made me feel free and fluid and like anything was possible.  I see the same for Leyla although she has physical gifts I never did as she demonstrated when she showed me the coffee grinder in motion after her first hip hop class.   A dance party with the Echo playing our favorite tunes is a great bonding time for us (and I am sure a good opportunity to chuckle for anyone watching).

We laugh with abandon. Laughter releases all this joy.  I find it infectious and great anecdote to when there is nothing left to say, either because we are joyful, mad or sad -- and words are wholly inadequate.  We laugh together at all the silliness we see, to get out of a funk, to release the emotions of a hard talk or experience.  A long tight hug after is extra special.

We sense we are destined for something and feel the weight of that responsibility.  I didn’t know what or why but I thought there was something I was supposed to do which led me to found Open Hearts Big Dreams Fund to help kids in Ethiopia.  I am still not quite sure what else but I still have that feeling.  I knew Leyla shared it when I saw her choose “So you want to be president” to watch over and over.  And when she shared her aspirations, the literal brother quickly pointed, “You can’t because you were not born here.”  Without missing a beat, she said, “Then I will be president of Ethiopia.”

We own our power.  Autonomy is important to me along with making my choices and forging my path even if they aren't the traditional or expected.  When Leyla was 2-3, her eldest brother was teasing her.  I saw her pull over a stool and climb on it.  She stood up so she could look him in the eye.  She then pointed her little finger in his face and told him emphatically,  “You are not Mom.  You are not the Truth.  And you and not the boss of me!!”  He fell over laughing at her serious face and tone so she added, “And this is NOT funny!”

I was awed by that statement which packed so much into a few short sentences.  Her dead serious passionate delivery made it even more powerful.  I have shared the story a few times, sometimes in earshot of Leyla.  When she was “great kid” at school, she wanted me to tell that story for the piece where parents provide a little of their insight which surprised me a little.

And we are the only two in the family who love sushi -- selfie at a favorite local place

So Happy Last One Digit Birthday, my beautiful, inside and out, daughter.  I look forward to continuing to learn from our differences and to our similarities!  You have enriched and brightened my life beyond words.