You would think I’d be used to it by now. But Bella just keeps surprising me. One day this spring, she marched up to me and announced, “Mommy, today is the day I’m going to learn to read.” I just smiled, loving her tenacity but laughing at her tendency to oversimplify. “Okay, Bella, that sounds great!” She holed herself away with her books for a bit, and that afternoon as we were running errands, she proudly announced, “Mommy, that signs says ATUHM.” Puzzled, I looked around until I saw the sign she was pointing at – “ATM.” By the end of the day, she had showed off her reading skills by sounding out several other signs and words we came across. Sure enough, she learned to read that day.

Today, she did it again. Not the reading – no, she has substantially mastered that skill already. She decided that today would be the day she learned to ride her bike without training wheels. Rather than coming to me for help – or even to remove her training wheels – she took the initiative, asked Aisling if she could use her bike instead, and just did it. It took about two attempts before she was riding steadily. The girls burst in the house, shouting excitedly – “Mommy, you have GOT to come SEE this!!!!” I run outside with them, not knowing what to expect. Bella grabs Aisling’s bike, hops on, and pedals away! “See, Mommy, I don’t need training wheels anymore!” Her face flushed with pride and excitement, she rides back around to me and stops. “I DID IT! And I did it ALL by myself!”

Her determination amazes me. As a five-year-old, her frustration sometimes gets the better of her, and with the shadow of her big sister looming over her, she can at times feel she’s losing a competition. But when she sets her mind to something, there is NO stopping her. Once she’s decided that it’s going to happen, she doesn’t accept the possibility that it might not.

One of my oldest and closest friends, Mike, likes to say that my girls are miniature carbon copies of the two sides of me. Aisling is the good girl, the sweet and smart one. Bella is the side of me that only my friends and family used to know – the bold, brazen, stubborn kid with a streak of adventure. As I watch my girls go through life, and especially on days like today, I can only hope that Mike is right – because there’s nobody I’d rather be like than my girls.


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