I have 5 kids. While each of them has their own personality, a unique, but obvious blend of their parents’ character traits (good and bad alike), most of them share one attribute in particular.
4 out of 5 of my children are “Alphas.”
What I mean by that is they have natural leadership qualities that have manifested in one way or another. Both adults and children are drawn to them because they have take-charge attitudes mixed in with intellect and natural organizational abilities. That doesn’t mean their rooms are always clean and homework is always done correctly. It also doesn’t mean they can’t, won’t or don’t take direction from others. BUT, in general, there is rarely a group activity (be it organized or just on the playground) where they don’t end up in some kind of leadership role. (Even the 3-year-old does not hesitate to take charge, though he is often overruled!) These four Alpha children are all fun to be around, have engaging personalities and seek to motivate others. Because of that, they are people magnets.
However, this is not the case with my middle child.
My middle daughter is also fun, engaging and seeks to motivate others, yet she is definitely NOT an Alpha. Here is what I mean…
If there is a group of kids playing on the playground, my daughter is bold enough to rush over to play with them. However, she often finds herself staying on the peripheral edges of the group, not completely “included” in what is going on.
When participating in an organized group activity, my daughter doesn’t fight back when she is challenged by others in the group. She either goes along with their preferences or removes herself because it is not worth the battle. There have been times when this has left her feeling defeated and alone.
Within the group of friends that she has, she still is the never the leader. If there is an argument, she feels responsible. If there is some silly drama, she feels it is up to her to make everything right. (Somebody please explain to me how there can be so much drama between 3 girls on a short 15 min bus ride!!!) If a friend she is playing with decides to change the rules of a game, wants to move on to some other activity or quit playing altogether, Abigail will isolate herself and sulk rather than take the initiative to engage with her friend again.
My daughter has never met a stranger. The world is simply full of friends that she just hasn’t made yet! If she had a superpower, talking nonstop with bubbly enthusiasm would be it!! Unfortunately, there are occasions she meets someone that does not care to be her friend and, try as she may, she is ignored or, even worse, verbally pushed aside.
I am an Alpha.
My husband is an Alpha.
My other 4 children are all Alphas.
But my middle daughter…she is an Omega.
Sometimes, she puts herself in the last position on purpose. Sometimes, she chooses to be in the last position for some reason only known to her. Sometimes, she allows others to put her in the last position because she won’t stand up for herself. And sometimes, she ends up in the last position just because that is where she lands.
As her mom, I struggle with this…A LOT.
It is hard to watch your daughter be pushed around, pushed aside and pushed down. It is hard to watch her be blissfully unaware that she is being mildly tolerated by others, or even ignored altogether.
What’s even harder is knowing that I do this to her sometimes myself. She is an easy child to overlook. She can lose herself in her imagination and be completely distracted for long periods of time. She doesn’t demand my attention the way the others do. And when meeting the needs of a large family, it is easy not to notice that one child is not getting a fair share of the attention.
Oh Lord, forgive me!!
Forgive me for the days I have been too busy to make time for my Omega daughter. Forgive me for the days I have been frustrated with her for not taking charge of a situation the way her siblings would. Forgive me for the days I have not taken the time to nurture her differences and even treated them as if they made her less worthy than others.
I didn’t do these things intentionally.
Do we ever mother our children with the intent of hurting their feelings and push them aside?!
The Alpha AND the Omega.
He reveals things to us when the time is right. While waiting for me to see my sin, God has graciously protected my middle daughter. He gave her wonderful spiritual gifts! She is thoughtful, kindhearted and so very forgiving of others…OF ME.
So what now?
Now I embrace who God made my Omega daughter to be. I ask God to help me see her the way He does. What I think is her inability to lead is actually her amazing ability to follow, to support and to encourage others from the back of the pack. At the age of 8, she doesn’t understand this yet. All she knows is that she has no fear of rejection. And even when she is rejected, she has a resilience that I do not have and must admit that I admire.