Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. So says Mr. Bueller.
And was he ever right?
Today was my daughter’s first day of 1st grade, and yesterday she turned six years old. I look at her now and wonder where the years went. I don’t have any stretch marks, and the scar from my c-section is all but invisible. If she hadn’t slept on me for two days in the hospital, it would be nearly impossible to convince me I even had a child. But here she is. Here she was:
A mere four years ago, she knew exactly who she was. She knew what she liked and what she didn’t. She dressed herself (shoes and socks), and knew all the words to every song from My Fair Lady (“Jus’ you wait, ‘Enry ‘Iggins, jus’ you wait!). All she wanted to do was laugh and sing. Nothing has changed.
Someone once told me that you don’t ask children what they want to do, you tell them they’re going to do it. Without getting too graphic, I experienced something as a child that no child should. When I look at my daughter, I feel a sense of pride that she has made it through six years of life without someone changing who she was meant to be as a person. She has boundaries that I did not. She knows her comfort zone, and knows it well. When I think of all the times I’ve tried to force this child to go somewhere, or do something, that she has clearly expressed no interest in doing I swell with pride that she stands up for herself. She has no problem telling me that she doesn’t like whatever it is I’m trying to get her to accept. She has her own sense of fashion:
We have come so far over the years and been through a lot together, she and I. Every decision I have made over the last six years has been because of her and what I want for her. This is the first time in my working life that I haven’t worked two jobs at once, yet it feels like I’m working fifty. There aren’t enough hours in the day to spend with her, and never enough time to sleep.
There was a blog post circulating the social networks recently that really hit home; so much so, that I had to check and make sure I didn’t write the post (The Day I Stopped Saying ‘Hurry Up,’ http://www.handsfreemama.com/2013/07/16/the-day-i-stopped-saying-hurry-up/). This is me and my child. She is a flower smeller, a free spirit, a tree climber, a Fraulein Maria. I love that about her. I wish I could be more like her. She is sweeter and more considerate than I have ever been, could ever dream of being. I have been trying my best not to rush her life, our lives. Just let her be, yet there is always something to do , somewhere to go, someone to see. And thankfully, she is always along for the ride. My little shadow.
As she begins this new year in school, I can’t help but think of her as a teenager (hating me) and my wanting to say, “I nursed you for 14 months! I let you wear sundresses in December. I watched you go two weeks without eating a bite of food when you had your tonsils out and cried myself to sleep every night. I PEELED GRAPES FOR YOU, DAMMIT.”
But maybe she won’t hate me. Maybe she really will be my best friend, just like she says she is. Maybe she’ll want to fill our home with her friends and she’ll tell stories about how I let her sleep in a suitcase just because she wanted to. Or maybe she’ll tell them how I let her wear a full-face of makeup (blue eyeshadow and red red red lipstick) to the grocery while pushing her new baby doll in a stroller.
Whatever she thinks, and whoever she becomes, I know that no one will ever make her do something she doesn’t want to do. I consider every day with her a gift. Even the days I couldn’t get her to wear pants or shoes other than flip flops or walk into the other room without my having to go with her. And if I live to be 100 years old, I will only have lived on earth as her mother for sixty-six years and that is not nearly long enough.
Happy Birthday, sweet girl. Nobody loves you like I do.