This was never supposed to happen. You weren’t supposed to do this to me. You weren’t meant to grow this fast. I’ve watched you with such intensity since the day we met. I desperately worked to memorize every freckle. In awe of the blue of your eyes, the dimple in your cheek, the way you studied me right back in those quiet moments we had together in the beginning. Before we left the hospital. Before we started this whole thing. Before you were truly a part of the world, when you were just mine… my whole world. Just me and you and the mesh diaper I had to wear after I was forced to detach from you.
The first of many times the universe began to wedge that space between us, inevitably leading to this moment… and I am forced to acknowledge that space. The one that will just keep on growing until you are the one sitting in the quiet corner of your home, silently shedding tears for the space between you and your babies.
I just hope I filled that space with wonderful things. Things that leave you with the strength and mindfulness to make good decisions when I’m not there to guide you. To be kind to the kid who is left out at recess. To listen to your teachers. To know it’s important to keep your heart open but protect it as well. I hope I have filled the gap with independence and faith and proper judgment. With acceptance and ambition. With wild imagination and endless creativity.
I pray that I have given you the ability to have more patience than me, with yourself as well as others. That you continue to be better than me in every possible way. Because the world can be cruel and cynical. It changes people and the older we get the more we forget to go easy on ourselves, instead creating those hardened edges that we flash around as if they are trophies.
But, please… my beautiful girl, don’t.
This is one of the hardest things I will ever do, this first step into your future. I’ll never truly be ready. I don’t want to put that backpack on you and swallow the lump in my throat while I excitedly talk about your first day of school. I don’t want to hand you off to strangers and wait hours to find out all of the things you learned without me. But… I know you’re not really mine. You belong to the world. I was just the vessel that created the beautiful creature you are. You were a special gift, but not one I’m allowed to keep forever. This I understand. I have to share you and it isn’t easy, because you’re the best gift I was ever given. But I would be doing the universe a disservice if I weren’t letting you run in it. But just like my mother, and her mother, and her mother’s mother, I have to let you experience it all yourself now. Which makes me so happy. But so scared. Nervous. Anxious. Excited. I miss you already. You made me better. Repairing all of the things that changed in me over time. It is a decent consolation prize for having to let you go.
Let you fly.
I’ve lost so much sleep so that you could dream big dreams. And for everything I’ve given up, for every moment I second-guessed myself, my choices for you… for every long night and even longer day… I am grateful. Somehow those long nights don’t seem so long now that you’re growing up… that your transforming into this incredible tiny person.
But! Like everything else, I will learn to adjust to this. I will be OK with the extra space that’s shaped like the 3-year-old you’re about to not be anymore. I will ooh and aaah over your crafts, and celebrate your successes. But while I do all of that, while I am being all OK… please let me still read those elephant and piggy books to you before bed. Please still need just a few extra minutes with me before you fall asleep. Please still curl up with me to watch cartoons. Please still think my cookies are the best. Please still want to “help” me with things even though I don’t need it. Please ask me to sing even though I have the worst singing voice. Please still beg me to dance in the rain.
But most of all, please take this new space you’re creating in the world, and be the best you that you can possibly be. Fill it with such you-ness that nobody would dare try to change it. Because I did not go through all that heartburn, stretch marks and months and months….and months of potty training for someone to just come in and jack up all that amazing you.
Because in my heart, you’re still mine. My little sensitive, big-hearted, bug loving, off-key singing, horrible dancing baby girl.