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Yesterday I got the best Mother’s Day gift a girl could get. No, it wasn’t the obnoxiously pink shirt with metallic flowers on it that Trinity proudly picked out (despite Andy’s attempts at suggesting something else.) You know, the one that says “MATERNITY” on the tag? (No. I’m not pregnant.) She wanted to give me something “fancy” to wear “on a date with daddy.” I swallowed my pride and, much to Trinity’s delight (and Andy’s amusement), wore it to church. Randomly throughout the day she would utter “That sure is a BEAUTiful shirt I got you, Mom! You don’t have anything else like it!” As fun as it was to see her enthusiasm for picking out something special for me, my favorite gift of the day came much later.

It was a gorgeous day and the girls were hankering to go to the playground. Andy had injured his ankle on a run earlier in the week and wasn’t up for taking them. I was pretty tired and not particularly in the mood to go out. Aren’t Sunday afternoon’s for naps? But the weather was so gorgeous, it seemed a crime to keep the kids cooped up inside. So down to the park we went.

Trinity headed straight for the hanging monkey bars. “Mommy!! I can skip a bar!” she called out. “Wanna see?” As she traversed the rings, successfully skipping one along the way, she explained “At first it was scary but then I noticed my bravery.”

I like that. It’s like your bravery is already there inside you, waiting to be used. You just have to notice it and choose to put it to use! Wouldn’t we all be a little better off to think that way?

I soon saw Trinity hovering in the vicinity of the Fireman’s Pole. She eyed it, moved away, came back to it, laid a hand on it, moved away, came back and stood in front of it for a while. She was at the top looking down.

Before I finish this story I need to back up and tell you that Trinity has always had a laidback personality. This made her an excessively easy baby and toddler. I confess, I fancied myself a good parent….until I had Lilly…but that’s a different story. As she got older a side effect of Trinity’s easygoing demeanor seemed to be a lack of willingness to work hard to accomplish things she found challenging. She simply didn’t find it worth her effort most of the time and would give up, lose interest, or move onto something else. As a mother I have worried…does that bode poorly for her future? Will she give up too easily when she faces challenges in life?

From the day she could command any influence on the world around her, Lilly has tackled anything she desires with a fierce determination. I have had no doubts that she would accomplish whatever goals she chooses to pursue. She’ll plow right through any roadblocks in her way. But what of my more tender elder daughter? Will she have the tenacity to work through challenges and achieve her goals? Her dedication to mastering the Monkey Bars this year (story told in the post ‘Year of the Monkey’) told me that she WILL, indeed, work hard to achieve her goals. It may sound silly but that accomplishment spoke volumes to me about her ability to choose a goal and stick with it until she has mastered it. It was a huge relief. The process she went through to improve those skills played itself out over countless recesses to which I was not witness. Yesterday, however, I got to watch something quite remarkable unfold before me:

Trinity didn’t know I was watching her. She stood eyeing the Fireman’s Pole. Glancing down, from time to time, to see how far the fall would be. “I know!” she yelled running to a different part of the play structure. “I can practice over here!” She ran up to another pole, jumped up, grabbed it with both hands, wrapped her legs around it and then let herself fall to the ground. After several more practice jumps she was back in front of that Fireman’s Pole. She placed her hands on the pole, stuck one leg out around it, then lost her nerve and stood back up on the platform. She went through this routine several times. Her face squinched up as she began to cry, then she regained her composure and reached out for the bar once more, only to back out again.

“Remember to find your bravery like you did on the Monkey Bars!” I called out. I went to stand at the bottom of the pole. She looked terrified as she reached out for the pole once more.

“I can’t find it! It’s scarier than the Monkey Bars!” she called out, almost panicked.

“You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, Trin,” I told her. “Do you want to?”

Yes. But it’s scary. Will you hold me?”

“You don’t need me to hold you but I’ll stand right by you in case you lose your grip and start to fall.”

With a trembling lip and tears welling up in her eyes she firmly placed both hands on the fireman’s poll. She stretched one leg out and I placed my hand on her side. Then she did it. She took a leap and swung the other leg around that pole. I let go as she slid her way down successfully.

A big smile replaced those trembling lips. “Now I can do EVERYthing on the playground!” she declared with obvious pride. With a residual tear sliding it’s way down her face, she rushed around the play structure to climb up and do it again, this time with no hesitation.

I was so proud of her. She faced her fear. She set her sights on a goal and despite the fact that she found it challenging and scary, she found it in herself to do it. As for those challenges ahead in life? She’ll be just fine…and that’s the best Mother’s Day gift I could get!

Not sure if my squinting here is from the brightness of the sun or my shirt, but I had to post a picture! 🙂

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