What I've Learned from 5 Years of Life with Miss Lynnie

It’s my baby’s fifth birthday…already? When I learned that I was pregnant with Madelyn, the baby of the family who is no longer a baby, I was just preparing to return to my environmental engineering career after leaving to care for the middle little one three years earlier. Nature had other plans for us, however, and after some quick reevaluation, we decided to postpone my return to the workforce—for what we intended to be just a year or so. Five years later, I’m still home with the girls.  Today I’m looking back at five years of life with Miss Lynnie and she’s looking forward to a day in her pajamas—since she has declared, in true Madelyn style, that she doesn’t have to get dressed on her birthday.

Know what? She doesn’t really need to get dressed today. No school, no outings planned and no real need for real clothes. In fact, if it wasn’t so cold, I’d even take her to the grocery store in her p.j.’s this afternoon—and I may anyway. Sometimes rules need to be at least bent a little. That’s one of the most important lessons that Miss Lynnie has taught me in the past five years.

What else have I learned in the past five years?

We take ourselves WAY too seriously. Madelyn doesn’t take much seriously—she runs at her own speed and marches to her own drum. It can be maddening to an obsessive, go-go-go family--but, she always accomplishes everything, her teachers love her, and she has a smile ready constantly. Why? She doesn’t worry about other’s expectations, she’s never met a stereotype that matters, she doesn’t worry about failure—she just wants to play the game—and I mean every game all the time. See, in Madelyn’s world, life’s a game that gets played on her terms. We could all learn a lesson from that.

The blah blah that says girls inherently believe that “boys are better in sports” is boloney—they may if nobody tells them otherwise. She ran circles around the boys at soccer camp last fall  (in her pigtails and favorite, hot pink shorts). She was the only girl there—and thought nothing of heading face first into the mud and newly mown grass in a drive for the ball. After hearing dads watching Miss Lynnie, yelling, “THAT’S how you play soccer!” to 4 year old sons—to which the poor little boys returned looks of horror—I knew that we were doing something right. Madelyn was not afraid to be Madelyn…even when society expected something else. That’s our girl. 

Details matter—when a child can think in a circle instead of within a box.  Madelyn's an intelligent, calculating child. She’s a daily logic problem in motion. One afternoon, I told her she absolutely could not play until she filled an 8 inch row of writing paper with the letter M; unfortunately, I forgot to specify the SIZE of the M’s required to fill the paper. She looked at me, smiled a Madelyn smile and announced within seconds that she was finished. She marched off to play and I looked at the paper—she had written two 4 inch M’s on the lined.  She had filled the line with M’ I couldn't argue, now could I?   I’m going to need to be on my toes with this one. Details matter when you are smarter than the average bear.

Life is what you make it—and if you don’t make it, then you are doing something wrong. Madelyn refused to potty train, work on phonics and reading with me, or work on tying her shoes as early as her sisters did. She had her own internal timers—and, you know what? They were good ones. She was completely potty trained through the night long before her sisters—and learned to read really quickly once she decided it was time. She doesn’t think it’s time yet to learn to tie her shoes. It will be soon—and I’ll be ready to help her when it is time. Madelyn doesn’t see life as a race to the finish. She sees it as more of chance to experience a world of opportunities—and I need to be there too because I probably missed those opportunities in my race to the finish.

There is a forest…and trees…and birds and pinecones…and acorns…and….A hike or family outing with Madelyn is an experience—usually experienced 100 paces behind the rest of the family. But—because of Madelyn we have photographs of deer footprints, squirrel’s nests, and beautiful wildflowers. We have collected leaves the size of meat platters, had picnics in the middle of nowhere, listened to bird calls, waded in creeks “just because” and played on every playground in sight.

Join me in wishing Miss Madelyn a Happy 5th Birthday—and encourage someone you know to experience life Madelyn style.  Life isn’t a race to the finish—it’s a chance to live.

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  1. I've always wanted to write down what I've learned from a my kids. What a perfect post for her 5th birthday. I found you on blog top sites... and I'm following you now on GFC. If you get a chance, check out my site



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