We took our annual Lukoskie family beach vacation a week earlier than normal this year. We usually leave for Hilton Head the Saturday before Memorial Day, but the Castle By the Sea got booked by another family for that week.
When we took you to the beach last year, you were only two months old. Now, you’re close to 14 months, and it feels like you grew exponentially during the one week we were there.
You’ve never been a big fan of water, which is surprising considering I had a water birth in my master bathroom at home. A lot of moms bathe their babes several times a week, even as newborns, but your dad and I decided that once a week was plenty for a new baby who doesn’t move or sweat much. We didn’t want to dry out your soft skin, and it’s not like you were ever really dirty.
Sometimes, I wonder if that decision is part of the reason why you hate being immersed in water so much. Maybe if we had exposed you to it more regularly as a newborn, you’d like baths and want to play, instead of screaming your head off as soon as you hear the water running.
We were hoping this beach trip would change all that. That you’d see your cousins playing in the pool and decide that you wanted to be right there with them. We had visions of you taking your first steps in the sand and believed you’d be walking on your own by the time we got back to Charlotte.
Well, you hated the sand, you didn’t learn to walk, and though you now don’t seem to dislike water quite as much as before, the pool was only tolerable if your dad or I were holding you the whole time.
But still … I think you grew exponentially during our week in Hilton Head this year. Maybe not in the ways we expected, but definitely in other ways. Your personality has really begun to blossom.
I see so much of myself when I look at you. On one hand, it makes me proud. Physically, I love having someone I can call my “mini.” (Though you do look a lot like your father as well.)Mentally, I love how, all at once, you seem to exhibit a sense of feistiness and sensitivity. The two traits blend together in you to create a personality that’s both boldly unexpected and effortlessly unique.
On the other hand, it scares me a little. As an extreme introvert, I struggle to build relationships with other people—even those who are called my “family.” Yet, at the same time, I so badly yearn to be closer to them. I long to connect with them on a deeper level, but when we come together, I find my timidity often holds me back from accomplishing that strong desire.
I see that same timidity-mixed-with-aggressive-desire in you. I see you holding yourself back—hesitant to experience the freedom of letting the water take you where it will, as you cling to me in pool, afraid to let go. All the while, you observe your cousins with a similar sense of longing. Longing to join them, connect with them, swim with them, relate to them and even be like them.
As the week progressed, you warmed up to the idea of putting your feet in the sand, and finally did. Where before you’d cry at the sound of water, you’re now comfortable in the pool or the tub, as long as you feel the security of mine or daddy’s arms around you. You spent the first few days in Hilton Head quietly observing your cousins from a distance, yet by the end of the week, you were laughing and interacting like a bunch of BFF’s.It took you a while to come out of your shell, but once you did, it was like the shell was never there. We enjoyed parts of you that we didn’t know existed. You opened up in ways we hadn’t foreseen. You made us experience a wave of conflicting, yet beautiful emotions. In short, once you felt encouraged to do so, you really opened up. Just like your mama… 🙂
For the longest time, I hated my personality. Society favors extroverts, after all. If you expect to succeed in business, in life, at relationships—what-have-you—society says you must be this perfect picture of extreme extroversion. An outgoing risk-taker with a bubbly soul and a perma-grin. It’s as unrealistic an expectation as achieving the Barbie body type, especially for people like you and I. Yet we feel the constant pressure to become this ideal image from almost everyone around us.
And eventually, we’d succumb to it… were it not for the grace and peace of the One who created us and helps us realize that this. is. simply. who we are. On purpose.
You, my dear, have sparked a renewed sense of hope in my heart. And as I observe your growth, that spark becomes a fire that gets warmer with each passing day.
You see, I realize now that you were wired this way. As was I. And that is so incredibly comforting.
Just like me, you may struggle to build relationships, and as a result may not have a lot of friends when you get older. I don’t. But the ones you do have will be loyal friends for life. They’ll be the real kind, too. The kind who have the courage to tell you the truth to your face—even when it hurts, not the kind who smile at you in person and whisper about you when you walk away.
I look at you, I watch your every move, and I’m encouraged to embrace who I am—even as I make small attempts to move outside my comfort zone enough to at least build stronger connections with those around me.
As I love you unconditionally—an act that feels as effortless as a summer breeze—I learn to love myself too. Not because of who I am, but because of who He created me to be. And as that happens, I fall even more in love with my Creator.
One day, you’ll be completely immersed in water, and though you might cry happy tears, you won’t fuss or wail. It will be a joyful day of celebration as you testify to those around you that you’re a new creature in Him. I look forward to that day, but in the meantime, I hope to encourage you to embrace this wonderful personality He has given you, to understand that God wired you this way for a reason, and to use those traits society deems unworthy to foster His peace, love and eternal Kingdom. On earth as it is in heaven.