Y’all are going to have to let a mama just ramble here for a minute. Because my Curly Girl, my sweet Maddy, is going to be nine this Sunday. Nine! Or, as she said this morning, “I’m almost double digits Mommy!”
What the hell?!? Stop it already.
I thought I was going to be fine about this. Turns out not so much.
In the book I wrote this year, I write that I don’t remember me before Maddy. And while that’s not entirely true–because of course I have memories, stories, experiences, that predate her–it often seems mostly true. Any notion of who I once was is gone. (Confession: This is probably a good thing.) I don’t even remember my own abdomen without the faint scar from the surgery that delivered her safely to us etched across it.
This morning, she went to school with her shoulders slumped a little. She’d forgotten her agenda last night, which meant I couldn’t sign it, indicating I’d reviewed her homework, etc. with her. Which means her teacher will probably offer a stern reminder that she has to be better about remembering such things. She hates messing up. Just like her mother. She hates disappointing people. Just like her mother. She wants to get it right, the first time. Just like her mother.
I could see this all playing out as those sweet shoulders sagged a bit, and so I stopped, bent over so I was right in her face, took her chin in my hand, and said, “Baby, this is not a crisis. It’s okay. You just forgot. I forget things all the time–you know this. It will be okay. This is not something to worry about.”
And then I said, “Now shake it off!” And she grinned as I shimmied my shoulders and hopped up and down to demonstrate such shaking.
And it truly, will all, be fine. Forgotten by the time I pick her up this afternoon.
Meanwhile, I’m thinking that she’s only going to be 8 for two more days, and by like next weekend she’ll be 18, or something like it, and I fear all the time I’m forgetting to teach her or tell her things…important things. Fortunately, I am not alone as a parent, even a single one. Her dad teaches and guides and loves her well, too. Her grandparents and extended family cherish her. She has good teachers and good friends all around. Still…she’s simply growing too fast and I’m afraid I’ll forget to help her know something I’m supposed to help her know.
Today, right now, what I want her to know is how proud I am of her. How in awe I am of her compassion, of how she pays attention to everyone around her and wants the best for each of them. How humbled I am by how beautifully she’s navigated being the only child of divorced parents. How she constantly makes me want to be a better person. How she gives me so much hope for this sometimes really shitty world. How she makes me laugh and smile when I don’t feel much like doing either.
I wrote in my book, too, something my dear friend and college roommate Kimberly says–that having a child, it is like reaching inside your chest and taking your heart out, and then letting your heart go, running around, unprotected, for all the world to see. With all the beautiful possibility, and all the potential for pain, too, it is out there, and you can’t take it back.
You just hold on. And love as best you can. And trust you’ve got what you need for the journey.
Even as it moves so very, very fast.