This past weekend I caught myself looking at my daughter’s photograph that is displayed in our living room. In that picture, she is only two weeks old. As I stared at it, my daughter whizzed around the periphery of my space with her roller skates.
“Look at me, Momma. Look.” I turned my head and did a double-take. She is still a little girl in many ways. Without any prompting, she showers me with kisses and hugs in the middle of the day. Nightmares still pop-up occasionally and she will bury her head on my shoulder as I pat her back. Last week, when she fell off her bike, she cried for a few minutes. She still needed encouragement to climb on the seat to maneuver her handle-bars around the sidewalk again.
I understand she still needs me, but I also know that she is blooming and becoming her own person.
In a flash, her height inches toward mine. She often jokes that she will tower over me in a few years. I know that is true, but that means I will no longer be able to carry her. Even now, I struggle to lift her off the ground and she says, “Momma, you cannot carry me anymore.” I insist and say, “No, I still can.” But she is right, the moment I hold her limbs, she is slipping down fast. The metaphor of that image does not escape me. A large part of me wants to keep holding on. There is a brief flicker of sadness as I realize that the passage of time keeps sending reminders that we are continually moving forward, despite our protests.
I sometimes tell her, “Don’t grow up too fast.” She laughs and responds, “I can’t be a baby forever, Momma.” We are years removed from those days. Diapers, bottles, and breastfeeding seem like a foreign language to me. I am immersed in a different world, where we have conversations about whether aliens are a myth and how peace is attained by gazing at nature. She’s no longer interested in doll houses, but her mind is captivated by rocks and minerals. Venturing into our yard she picks up random rocks and asks to split them open with a hammer. Yesterday she announced that obsidian is her favorite rock. Sometimes when I am not at my best she says, “Momma, just chill. It will be ok.” On a recent plane trip, when some turbulence rocked our plane, she consoled my fright by placing her hands on my back and telling me, “It will be ok, Momma. I promise.” Her sensitivity often brings her to tears, but it also creates her lean toward nurturing and kindness.
We talk about gratitude and how important it is to honor the people who you love in your life. I know she’s recently picked up a love of cursive handwriting and she often says she can never go back to print again because it is so “babyish.” I laugh as she hands me this little note.
In it I see my baby, but also my growing girl.