And perhaps you are correct. I won't even try to defend myself. I like bows. It makes me happy when Irelynn wears them. It makes my heart melt to watch her play with bracelets and wear my necklaces and step into my high heels. I think just about every Mom enjoys this to some degree. But for just a few of us, it has an even deeper meaning. Let me tell you why.
When I was pregnant with Jeremy, people would ask me, what do you want to have and I would always reply, "A boy!" Perhaps it was because I grew up with all sisters and perhaps it was wanting something I didn't have or not wanting to deal with the drama or wanting to have that special mother-son relationship or wanting to be a soccer mom. Who knows? But I got my wish. Jeremy is very much a boy! When he was little, I made friends with other moms of little girls, and I started to see the green grass on the other side. Having a little girl became very appealing. Not because of the bows and dresses and girly things, but because I became very aware of the strong relationship that I yearned for that perhaps I didn't always have with my Mom. I think I have it now, but I didn't always have it growing up. I became pregnant again with Savannah.
We learned early on that she would likely have Down Syndrome. I knew what that was but I didn't really know about it. What I did know is that people would look at her funny and that infuriated me. Even if people looked at her because she appeared different, I knew if she was dressed cute and had a bow in her hair, then perhaps no one would say anything to her or make her feel different. I worried about her self-esteem growing up or if she would become aware of the fact that people looked at her differently. As a Mom, I thought about these things. I worried about bringing her to Church or Target or wherever and how well-meaning people would look happily into my baby carrier and then watching their smiles drop as they realize this was not a "normal" baby I had. This was what kept me awake at night - worrying about how people might judge Savannah. But no matter what, if she had a bow, at least that would make someone smile.
I had no idea what was ahead, but bow shopping made me happy and gave me something to look forward to as I prepared for my precious daughter to arrive. If she couldn't be a dancer, I imagined us sitting together watching the Richmond ballet or the Nutcracker together, creating memories together, with yes - a pretty bow in her hair. I know it is petty and insignificant. I know there are starving children in Africa that could benefit from the money I have spent on bows. But it's not about the bows. It's about the memories I had envisioned in my head of Savannah and I together.
When all of that was taken away from me, clearly, we were devastated. There is no other way to described it. When we struggled with infertility and went on to suffer 4 more miscarriages, it was even more devastating.
When Irelynn came along, I felt like I was given a second chance. Let me be clear. Irelynn is not and will never be a replacement child. There is no replacing Savannah. I think about every day how I should be buying matching outfits for Savannah and Irelynn and how Irelynn really shouldn't be getting all new things because she should be having hand-me downs and re-runs just like Nicholas is getting. But she's not. Because Savannah isn't here. And she is getting some of Savannah's things, only Savannah never got the chance to wear them. And I can't buy matching things. At least not now and not for Savannah and Irelynn.
When I put bows in Irelynn's hair and watch her play with dolls and bracelets and paint her toenails, I realize how silly all those things are. But to me, I'm getting another opportunity to experience those Mother-Daughter things that I didn't get with Savannah. I'll never get to do those things with Savannah. Those opportunities are gone forever. But I am getting another opportunity to build a new Mother-Daughter relationship and create new memories with Irelynn. And when she leans her head towards me to put her bow in, I can't tell you how that warms my heart. Or when she looks at her toes and says "Pretty feet!" with a big smile, what that means to me. It's a memory and an experience between a Mother and a Daughter that I have wished and dreamed about for 5 years. It doesn't replace the one that was taken from me with Savannah, but it's a new one - a bonus one!
I know I am ridiculous at times, but it makes me happy. And for now, it appears to make Irelynn happy. If one day it doesn't make Irelynn happy, I'll stop BUT I'll have all these photos to look back upon. But at least for now, Irelynn and I are on the same page. This little girl is an absolute miracle (as are Jeremy and Nicholas), but Irelynn just has something really special about her. I know she has a big part of her big sister inside of her and it just radiates through that smile.