I’ve been living in a dream. This magical place where my only offspring is half girl, and half woman. I watch her, with her long hair and flawless skin, getting dressed in clothes that flatter her lovely almost 14 year old figure, and I know that she’s coming into her own self – a time is nearing when she’ll leave her childhood behind. She’s anxious, and she can feel it coming as well. She knows that soon, she’ll be dating, and driving and teenhood seems like a fairy tale, where all she’s ever wanted will be hers.
And then, in the next moment, she’s just my little girl. She’s dancing or singing or haphazardly balancing on the curb as we walk down the street. She is laughing hysterically at something that I cannot, in my mom-brain, relate to, but I laugh in spite of that, because I can enjoy the infectious laughter of my sweet child for just a little longer.
She’s lost all her mittens already this winter. She leaves her coat on the floor most days. Sometimes I still catch her watching The Disney Channel. But as I type this, she’s cooking us both lunch without supervision, and she just ordered herself a very grown up looking purse online. And I know it’s almost gone. The sweet spot I’ve been looking forward to – this time, when she’d be old enough to relate to me as a woman, but young enough to not have to. Old enough to know life isn’t always fair, but young enough to not know just how deep that truth runs. Old enough to be my friend and stand by me when I need her, and young enough to be my little girl, and need me to stand in front of her.
I’m not a mom who’s looked back often. I haven’t longed for the days when Laine was in diapers or for when she first started school. I enjoyed those days and tried as best as I could to cherish them, but I’ve chosen to be more anxious for the days ahead. I remember my own mom saying she enjoyed when my brother and I were teens. She said we were funny and that she loved our spirits at that age, and so, I’ve always looked forward to those years with my own daughter.
However, now that they are looming so closely, I am finding it hard to navigate the waters of this time in our lives. We share the blame equally, she and I. She’s stubborn and stuck in her silly ways, and I’m stubborn and stuck in a place of resistance. I want the combination of child-Laine and adult-Laine to stop in time, and stay just this way.
I know that can’t happen. She’s gotta grow up. With that end in mind, I’ve got a plan to sail smoothly through the next few years and cruise into adulthood, no complications and no regrets. Well… a mom can dream, right? Nevertheless, here’s the plan.
We are going to love. A lot. More than anything else. I looked up the word love, and I didn’t find a definition that matched my knowledge of what this word means. I read that it represents affection – a feeling or state of mind towards a person or an object. But I’ve always understood love to be a word that represents action. So part of my plan is to express love through doing – be it through giving hugs, driving her places, taking trips, or simply conversing and spending time with her. But I’m also going to show love by being firm. I will be insisting on obedience, because submission to authority is a survival skill in the real world. I will be insistent about responsibility because I want her to succeed in adulthood, and that means forgoing opportunity to be frivolous. I will be there in her failures, and sometimes I’ll punish, because consequences are real, and life is ready to dish them out.
I will hold her hand as she takes steps away from her childhood and kisses it farewell. As she sees her future in the distance, I’ll run with her in tandem as we dash towards it. I’ll let her go when I know she’s ready to keep running on her own.
For today, we are laughing and dancing, she’s doing her hair and putting on mascara, and we are living in that place of perfect balance, but tomorrow, it might be gone. I will be ready. Ready to help her through the process so that one day, when she looks elsewhere than into my eyes for her happiness and security, she can do it with confidence, and boldness of spirit. That she knows that genuine love is more than something she feels, or a word that rolls off her lips. That she looks to build the foundation of her life on things that speak peace and charity and stability.
My prayer is that her life will be full of the kinds of joy and pain that make us stronger humans, because she has brought those things into my life. Motherhood brings heartbreak like nothing else, but it ushers in a devotion that accompanies indescribable joy. And it will be sweeter still because I know that after she leaves me, she’ll return a woman, who has become my friend and my equal, and that will be the greatest accomplishment of my life.