Annabelle. / by Rebecca Bustamante

My daughter doesn’t like it when I’m too affectionate with her. It stunts her independence so she squirms like a wiggly worn out of my grasp if I hold on for a moment too long.

She was born independent, came out sunny side up just because she wanted to. Her lungs were filled with fluid as she laid on the small table with a quiet but determined nurse by her side and we had no idea something was very wrong. That’s how independent she is, wouldn’t let us fight her first battle with her. Had to do it on her own.

And you haven’t heard a war cry until you’ve tried to do something for Annabelle that she thinks she can do on her own. You might as well tie her to a rock and throw her in the ocean if you dare zip up her sweater, she’d prefer the former. She is strong and fierce and confident beyond learned behavior.

I like to think that all of those Single & Independent songs by “strong female” archetypes, were written with Annabelle as their muse. She probably, if born in the right era, would’ve single handed-ly started the feminist movement because she hates people opening doors for her.
“I could do it!”

And you should see her when she’s sick, she transforms from a tip toed gymnast into an iron beast. Once, she threw up at least a dozen times, and each time as her throat lurched and prepared for the rancid ejection, she stared at me, locked eye to eye, head held high, as sour hot liquid spewed from her mouth.
She didn’t shed a tear or grip fiercely to the sides of the bucket like her older brother, she just sat straight up, straight faced, as her stomach rejected whatever poison tainted her little body.
My daughter is resilient.

But, unknown to many, she has this little spot under her chin, it’s very tricky to find, and if you get it wrong you won’t get a second chance. It’s plump and squishy and just about the softest skin she’s got; located right in the shadow of her neck. It’s her sweet spot. And there’s only one who’s aim is always right, who knows just the right moment and just the right place to reach out and poke this hyper-sensitive Achilles heel of a spot; to elicit the most joyful of squeals and hearty laughs known to man. Who never falters and never fails.

Her daddy.

She is strong but He is stronger. Her yells are thunderous, but His quiet calm is louder. She bolts away quickly when filled with anger, but His giant arms grab quicker. And she wrestles and struggles and kicks and fights, but His massive arms hold her small frame tighter, His grasp just right.
He never hurts her,
His aim is to calm, not quench, as He settles her down even in the wildest of rages.
His words speak sternly but His eyes love adoringly. Because He is proud and amused by her young untamed roaring fire.

He grounds her wild confidence; lets her run loose just far enough to feel free but keeps her just close enough to be protected.
She learns hard, she falls bloody, and she fails dejectedly,
but she can always find her composure, in His presence.
Whether on 7am grumbly belly mornings with a mane untamed
or on 2am thirsty, pitch-black, scared nights.
Because in His arms,
though initially she battles against His might,
naively mistaking His protection for restriction,
she is His child, she is safe, and she is free.