Thursday, February 16, 2006

What is this life?

The morning routine begins with lazy stretches and a protest, bowls of cereal, toothpaste smudges on the sink, hurried pursuits for wooly mittens, and a mislaid boot. I plant a stolen kiss upon the head of a child who rarely lingers in my arms anymore. She no longer reaches for the security of my hand in crowded places. She insists on choosing her own clothing, despite my opposition to an ensemble of printed pants and striped shirts. I manage to breathe in her small girl smell for one brief moment before she dashes to the car.

I close my eyes and for an instant she's three years old and I'm rocking her. She's humming along to "Sweet Baby James" and I'm stroking the wispy baby curls that are noticeably giving way to long, thick hair. Her tiny voice asks for help to the potty. Her knuckles are still dimpled. Walking is still a clumsy task. Mama is her world.

I open my eyes and watch her seven year old legs confidently run to the car. Will she turn and wave to me? Not today. She has limitless ideas swirling in her head today. She is hoping to meet her friends soon. She is bursting with excitement to share secrets and stories with the other girls her age. She wonders if she and Amy are still best friends today. Chocolate or white milk today? Will her most beloved Tyler shine a toothless smile her way today? Will she get a good swing at recess today?

Her small self is shifting. As she grew I marveled in each new triumph and cheered her on to the next stage. She spoke and I threw my head back with laughter. She walked and I celebrated. She jumped, climbed, and ran and I rejoiced. Now I wish to pause time and hinder her growth for just a moment more. Please stay little my love. Please don't leave behind the roundish face and soft body. Remain just as you are.

I often forget what this life is. When the mirror betrays me I must not let her see my tears and disgust. When my own demon lingers I must keep her from knowing the ruthless beast. I am selfish to cling to her so completely. Her job is not to soothe me. Although to me, she is a warm blanket that wraps around my body on a bitterly cold night. I must remind myself that it is her turn to write the next chapter in this life story. My job is to help create and mold such a precious thing.

She spreads her gossamer wings because I've sewn them on so firmly. Oh! How they sparkle! How quick and able she has become. She is brave and confident. She may fall and so I will scoop her up and restitch the torn wing. My job as her mother is never finished, only evolving. I hold fast until she is ready to take flight again.

And then I will wait for her to turn and wave.


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