Lately she is less of a baby and more of a person. Like a full on person. She likes jokes. She has unique posture. She's kind of bossy. Church is not her favorite place. Swinging on the swings is her favorite thing on any planet in any universe. She responds to her full name and her nickname. SOMEHOW SHE LOVES LEMONS.
I like letting her explore her world. I tell myself it's okay to let her do that while I focus on emails or editing or 100 other things I have to do staring at this screen. Hopefully she knows I love her? Hopefully she will always want to hang out with me like she does now. I've already decided a lot of things I want to teach her, how I want to teach them, when, why, how often, with or without humor, alone or with her siblings. Things like being kind, being creative, using fear to keep you safe, what modesty means, what covenants mean, what I believe about this life and the life to come.
Kindness is the most important attribute a person can possess. It is something she has taught me uniquely and now that I am a mother I am so much more focused on being kind. My dad recently taught me that his dad taught him, "John, in life always extend as much mercy as you possibly can." That is written on my brain right now and I want to write it on hers. Every person on the planet--me, my landlord, Barack Obama, my mother, her mother, her mother, supermodels, homeless people--every person was born, through a woman's body, in the most immense amount of focus and pain and emotion imaginable in a few human seconds. Everyone. And everyone's mother looked and them and thought, what in the world has just happened. This? This is a miracle. It's impossible and incredible and I don't know what to say. And that's why we must all be kind. Because women.
Women, who are so often treated weirdly or badly, in my culture, in other cultures. Women who uplift and laugh and dedicate thousands upon thousands of hours to the betterment of themselves and the people they love and the earth they live on. Women who cruelly cut down others and themselves because they believe other women have set up a standard to which we must adhere very exactly in order to be desired. I want Eleanor to be a woman who loves caring for other women, emotionally and literally. I want Eleanor to be a woman who knows her own divine worth, and does not worry whether her choice of clothing will affect another person's thoughts, but rather looks in the mirror and says, "Do I look happy? Do I feel happy? Am I comfortable? Would I feel comfortable wearing this in the presence of the people I love most in the world?" Because that's what makes beauty, and that's what makes modesty. Not skin or shoulders or floor length or cover-ups or standards. Modesty and femininity are determined by an individual woman, not by a rule book or the mistakes a boy might make. I want Eleanor to know that in her bones, I want her to know it so well that it would seem silly if anything else were argued to be true.
I want her to know that messes are okay, cleaning up is important, struggling is part of it, creating something you're really proud of is magical, sharing creative things is scary but so very rewarding, that there will always be someone more clever, someone who has done it before, someone who thinks your work or your style is stupid. But you create anyway. Because your creativity is god-given. And mother-given, thank you very much. I will give you the finger paint and the silk flowers and the glue gun and the fabric scraps and the paper and pencils and cameras and palettes and nail polish and scissors.
All of these things are so much a part of me, and I feel that she is so much a part of me as well, that I am desperate and giddy to teach her all of this. I'm in a rush and I'm taking my time, I'm thrilled and freaked out, but beyond all I just love her. That's all. Here I go.