When Alara was just a little baby there were times I would ask myself "How am I doing today? Can I handle the questions? The looks?" and my actions would be based on the answers. If I was feeling brave, and confident, I wouldn't care what others thought, and wouldn't bother to "hide", or cover Alara up. But if I was feeling insecure, or just plain private, I'd dress her in long sleeves, keep a blanket over her body, or wear her close to me. I was sensitive, and valued our privacy- something that a cute new baby doesn't always allow you to have. I needed my time to get comfortable with ourselves, with the questions, and with the answers I didn't always have. Shame is not what I'm talking about. But confidence, and being comfortable, feeling secure, because sometimes when life throws something your way you need a chance to get used to it.
I've grown to forget her difference, sometimes. I'll try to hand her something, when her hand is full, and she'll give me a look. Or figure out how she can get that one more thing. (Great problem solver she is!) To me she is absolutely normal- more than normal, lol, she's sometimes more than I can handle! I'll be sleeping with her at night at just "remember". We've evolved so much in just 2 years.
Two years later and I'm there. I know my girl, am proud of her, and think she will WOW! the world. But now there's something new. Now my job is to guide her. I knew in the future I would have to build her confidence, and help her find answers to questions others would ask of her. But I thought that would come later.
Recently we noticed something, a change in her. At 2, she's becoming increasingly more aware. This is normal for all 2/3 year olds. I've walked the "Who am I? I am Me!" path before with 7 other little ones. But none with a obvious physical difference. Not just obvious to others, but to herself too.
I was recently doing hand rhymes with Alara, at bedtime, she tried one on her own, and became very sad. Being not so verbal yet, she showed me her lucky fin (or "nubby" as her calls it), and got really sad. I kissed her nubby and switched to This Little Piggie. It's now become her favorite, she asks for it every night at bed. I wasn't sure if I handled that correctly, I never am quite sure. How Do I talk to a 2 year old about this? All I have is to make sure she knows I love her and her nubby. And I think it's very special.
But I'm not sure how she's feeling about it. She knows her nubby is different from her other hand, and different from most other people too. She knows there's no nails there, sister can't paint it when she paints her nails. She knows others ask about it. And want to see it. And now WE know she doesn't want others to notice, see it.
Someone new came into the yard to talk to Dad, and she sat far away from them on her bike. With her nubby in her pocket. It was obvious, to us, she didn't want it noticed. It hurt our hearts to watch her hide a part of her.
It took me time. All I can do is give her time. Respect her privacy, and hopefully teach her confidence, pride and self-love. I'll continue to show her photos of others like her from my facebook pages, instagram photos, and blogs I read. She sees these kids and says "Me! Nubby!" It makes her happy, and brings her closer to others just like her. I'm not sure what else I can do, or if there is anything I can do.
It'll be interesting to see where we are in another 2 years. Hopefully strong, secure, and proud!