Alfalfa Sprouts (How Love Grew)

You'd never see me eating them now, but in early 2001, you'd likely find alfalfa sprouts in my fridge. I'd stuff them in a pita pocket for lunch while thinking about nachos during my pregnancy with our second child (our first girl.)

I didn't crave them. Yuck. I'd just decided to tolerate them because I was determined to mother like a rockstar, after having winged it with our firstborn. I winged it so bad as a first time mother that I drank lots of Big Red because I thought it had less caffeine than Dr Pepper.

Nope. This time I was going to do it all right. I'd have structured bedtime and rocking time and (just like I had with Hayden,) I'd read her so many books.

She'd be like one of those little doe-eyed porcelain Precious Moments figurines I collected in high school. I was going to raise a hug-loving little Mother Teresa in pink.

Nobody told me that alfalfa sprouts were a culprit for carrying food borne illnesses like e. coli and that pregnant women shouldn't eat them. Nobody warned me that daughters will hardly ever ask us to read aloud the daughter manual we wrote. Nobody taught me that a small, dainty-looking package such as Hallie would hold an uncontainable spirit. But on March 1, Hallie was born and I began a journey of learning.

From the get-go Hallie wouldn't want to be cuddled or coddled. As a tiny baby she hardly tolerated being rocked. As a toddler and preschooler she'd shoo me away from her self-initiated timeout and, later, her bedside when she was sick with pneumonia. "I love you, now can you get out of here?", she'd ask one night when I tried to crawl in her bed while she had pneumonia.

She was never a conformist. Along with a clothes rack of princess dresses, Hallie had a basket of high heels and accessories. She'd put on a Snow White costume, don the heels and then she'd put a crown on. Invariably, she'd wear it upside down. Once when I protested, she told me she was the mean queen. She wasn't mean though. It's just that not all princesses are frilly or aim to please. Some princesses are warriors; on a path unmarked by Disney or fondly told fairytales.

I'd teach her to be like me. I was thrifty. (A clearance shopper.) ...Someone who'd give the shirt off my back to someone who had no need or desire for my shirt. More than money, I'd spend myself, offering my currency unwisely. Instead, she'd belt out the lyrics to "I wanna be a rich girl" after hearing the song for the first time in her aunt's car.

It wasn't that she was stingy. It was more about her being in charge of what was hers. It was more about her giftedness in handing over all things wholeheartedly when she did give, not out of compulsion or manipulation. I would be unsuccessful in teaching her to be a little me. In her unwavering nature she'd make me into a better me.

She would be about as interested in letting me fight her battles as she was letting me give friendship advice or fix her hair. She took the big box of advice, styling tools and political opinions, and after making a few mental notes, ever so politely gave the full box right back to me.

I prepared for sugar and got a lot more spice.

She's now turning eighteen. She stands tall at 5'4; an invisible upside-down warrior crown on her beautiful blonde head that was born light brown. She mostly knows what she wants and doesn't fear the parts she doesn't know yet. She's fierce and fiercely loved. And it's a love that will never stop growing.

Our children. Yet not ours,

Whom no one can possess

For all the future holds

Good or Ill

They are their own

Unless dear Lord, unless

By miracles of grace and mercy infinite

They are possessed by Thee

And so become more their own

By being Thine

Minton Johnson

4 thoughts on “Alfalfa Sprouts (How Love Grew)

  1. Jana

    Beautiful. You are such an inspiration to me. I will try to keep these words close as I parent a daughter so amazing and so different than me.


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