Sometimes, I just sit and watch my kids during different activities and wonder how they can both be like me and yet both be so different. It is literally astonishing how completely opposite they are in so many ways, and yet, I still find them both so relatable.
Just the other day, the girls and I ventured to walk a trail and soak up some sunshine. Of course, after the long winter, there was no green in sight. All around was old fallen leaves left over from autumn and dead, brown tree branches littering the ground. While the trail used to be enclosed fully and vibrantly, we could now see directly through it.
Because of the clear view, I felt a little calmer about them adventuring out in the trees. Quickly, our trail walk became much less of a walk and more of a climb. Every fallen tree they were walking like a balance beam. They climbed up old trunks and made their way down slanted logs.
And as these sweet girls tracked in the mud and scuffed up their entire outfits, I watched closely as their personalities shone through.
Fearless and ready to take on any obstacle, Reagan climbed the fastest and the farthest. Every time she hit a bend, she brushed away limbs and created a way through. When her leg slipped a little and a branch scraped her ankle, she quickly said, “I’m fine,” and kept going.
Maylie, on the other hand, is my skeptical one. Cautiously, she calculated every climb before she started knowing up ahead what obstacles she would want to avoid. Not nearly as fast or amble as Reagan, she was still determined to get from one side to the other – even if that meant sitting down on the log and scooting.
At one point, Maylie’s foot got stuck in between some limbs as she was moving along. She cried out for some help. She was sure she was stuck forever. And I, I knew she had not yet even tried to work her foot out. That’s the thing with Maylie, sometimes she needs that extra boost – belief – in herself.
Whereas many times in the past, I would have run over and freed her leg so she could keep on going, I have been really encouraging her to work on her own problem-solving skills. Oh, I didn’t leave her empty-handed, I prepped her with confidence and advice.
“You got this, Maylie. You can get out of this. Move those limbs away and pull your leg through. You can do it.”
Within seconds, she was able to free herself without any physical help doing so. She overcame it. She got through it. She did it. And you could see the pride beaming on that little girl’s face. All the while, Reagan missed the entire event because she was too busy jumping from stump to stump attempting the next thing she could overcome.
As I continued to watch them explore, I started thinking about the different things in life – experiences and situations – where I have both been eager and free like Reagan and unsure and skeptical like Maylie.
Most of the time, I am full go like Reagan – unafraid and not looking too far ahead. Not thinking things through at times, I find myself staring down at a self-caused injury and reminding myself that I am fine and to keep on going. And I love the adventure of these times – the carefree “you got this” attitude. It has honestly taken me places in life that I would not ever have gotten to without it.
Yet, other times –although much rarer – I overthink even taking my next step. I need someone to tell me that I can do it, encourage me that I have what it takes to get it done, and cheer me on while I do it. I have been Maylie stuck in the tree needing direction and longing for someone to just step in and free me.
And as I thought about the different times that I have been like Reagan and the different times that I have been like Maylie, I realized that they all seemed to coincide with different seasons of my life. And these girls, they are as different as the seasons that pass throughout the year.
Not that one season is better than the other, in early spring they can climb all the things from the destruction of winter, yet in the summer they can view all the beauty of the regrown nature around.
And I realized out on that trail that, while sometimes it can be interesting parenting two completely different little individuals, never would I change the constant variety in lessons, laughter and love that they bring to every season of life that we take on together.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.