Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just for a day

When I look at her now, at almost 3 years old, I still see the tiny being she was when she first drew breath. I remember her lips meeting my breast for the first time. I remember the way she would look at me as if I was her entire world. And I was. I was her sustenence, I was her shelter. I met her every need.

It was exhausting and lovely. It is hard to put into words those first few weeks with my baby girl. She made me a mother. She filled my dreams. She was so sweet, so helpless, and so beautiful.

And now...she is growing into a little girl. She is slipping from my grasp, wanting to do things on her own. She wants to play her own games. She wants to have her own agenda. And it hurts, in the sweetest of ways.

It is such a slippery slope, this motherhood thing. It is a constant dance of letting go and holding tight. Some days I find myself crying after she is in bed because I feel as if all I have done is fuss at her all day. Some days I don't want her to go to sleep. Some nights I want to hold her until she slips into dreams like I used to, watching as she let go. I nursed her to sleep until she was nearly 2, and now, I lay her in her big girl bed and walk away. It is as it should be, I know...but my heart feels differently.

Nothing could have prepared me to be a mother. For looking at my daughter and seeing through her 3 year old attitude to the small being she used to be. For seeing her grow, and being proud and also devastated by how fast the time goes. I look at her and want to ask God to slow things down, just for a while. So I can keep her here, on the cusp of needing me and not needing me. So I can still be the face of her world before she turns outward.

I mourn the baby she was. I look at pictures and see the toothless grin, the sweetness. She was a delight and a joy. There was no drama to our relationship- only mutual adoration. Now, it's different. There is discipline and challenges. There is out and out defiance. There is dramamtic fits and time outs. All of the simplicity is leached away now, and it is a real mother-daughter dynamic. Again, it is as it should be, but my heart remembers that sweet cherubic angel whose eyes used to follow me everywhere, whose arms lifted to me, whose grin lit up my world.

Of all the things life has taught me these past 3 years, it is that I will always see my baby girl in my little girl. Now matter how old she is, or how stubborn, or how angry. I will always see the tiny angel she was when she came into this world. She is the only thing in this life that has ever been entirely mine. She made me believe in family and love and togetherness. She made me believe it was okay to need someone so much you would die for them. She saved me, and she gave me a reason to believe in all the things I thought I didn't need.

But if somebody out there has a secret to reversing time, just for a day, so I can hold that little butterball with the megawatt smile, I'd give anything for it. Just for a day.

She is my life. I am lost in her.