My youngest daughter is not the sweet little girl I dreamed she would be.
There, I said it.
That girl, bless her heart, came out of the womb screaming her head off and hasn’t stopped since. She begins each morning with this screaming ritual and ends the day just the same. Sure, occasionally, she lets me braid her hair. Every so often, I get a kiss and an “I love you.”
She loves dresses and tutus and princesses. From time to time, we paint nails. But, for the most part, she is feral.
And for a long time, I was sure this feral baby was a result of genetics and a little bad luck after having two pretty passive boys. But, perhaps, it is my parenting that has had a hand in all of this. And for that, youngest child, I am sorry.
I am sorry I always forget to pack you extra clothes. When you pee your pants in public, we are left scrounging for literally anything to put on you. Sure, you could do me a favor and stop peeing in your pants every damn day. But, if you did, I’d miss seeing you run around birthday parties half-naked. Just promise me this will be a habit you kick before high school.
I am sorry I let you watch YouTube so often. I know, I know, it’s not good for you. But mama needs a friggin’ break, girlfriend. And, if you didn’t watch superhero shows with your brothers, you never would have told me that you are Wonder Woman and had special powers, too. The truth is, you do have powers, youngest child—and it scares me a bit.
I’m sorry I never signed you up for swim lessons, youngest child. It turns out, you didn’t need to be taught, little fish. You jumped in the water and fluttered away.
I am sorry your hair never gets brushed before school. Or your teeth, for that matter. Your hair is a reflection of the chaos that ensues in our house each morning.
I am sorry all the clothes you have are mismatched hand-me-downs. Would it matter if I bought you matching dresses and bows, though? The clothes you pick out every morning make you, you. And you found out on your own that you love skirts over your leggings and sweaters over your dresses. And, oddly enough, you love your tutu, yet you hate dance class.
I am sorry your play dates are few and far between. Your weekends are spent running from one brother’s baseball game to another brother’s soccer game. You might not be my go with the flow child but you, youngest child, are my always-on-the-go-up-for-an-adventure child. And I love that.
I am sorry I haven’t signed you up for any sports yet. At this age, your brothers had tried every sport. Twice. Instead, youngest child, you found what sports and activities you love on your own. I’ve seen you throw a ball and—don’t tell your brothers—but you have a better arm than them.
I’m sorry I didn’t snuggle with you more. Or sit down for tea parties with you. But chances are, you wouldn’t be sitting for long either. You were born to move, to roam, to explore the world at your own pace. You weren’t meant for sitting still, I can tell you that, baby girl. I knew from the moment I met you that you were going, going, gone.
I’m sorry I wasn’t the mama to you that I was to your older brothers.
But I’m not sorry about the tiny, magical lightning bug you have become. You shine like the stars and you wreak havoc like the sea. You are gentle yet powerful. You are beautiful yet savage. You don’t let anyone tell you who you are, which will help you someday more than you know right now. You are a force to be reckoned with—for good, for bad and for all the wonderful you bring to the world.
Best of all, little one, you are you. And I wouldn’t trade the world for you.