Author’s note: I wrote this post before the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. It has taken on a new sentimental significance since then.
As she grows up, my firstborn is hitting her milestones at lightning speed.
And I don’t like it.
On the one hand, her unfolding maturity and blooming language acquisition is a wonder to witness. On the other, it’s utterly terrifying and makes me slightly sad.
My baby is growing up, and I can’t stop it. I don’t want to stop it, but I can’t believe it’s here.
She’s almost five and about to enter kindergarten. In a few months, we will welcome our third child to the family. Maybe it’s this impending reality that has me reminiscing back to my first pregnancy and thinking of my first most especially.
I can’t help but think of my eldest baby in a special way as the one I’ve lived the longest with. She’s my proverbial “first pancake” child, the one I’ve made most of most of my mothering mistakes on. The one whose forgiveness I will probably need more than any of the others.
She’s the one most like me in sheer stubborn will, but most unlike me in her general interests. She’s a dress and skirt preferring, princess-loving, daddy adoring, lego-building and cake baking little math whiz. I was none of those. Not even close.
Yet I know her so intimately, and, if I’m being very honest, she knows me just as thoroughly. It’s an amazing mystery, the bonding that takes place between mother and daughter. We know how the other ticks. And when she does little impressions of me (especially when she’s ‘disciplining’ her little brother, it’s scary just how accurate her imitation actually is).
Where will she and I be in 13 years, when she is 18 years old? Or what about the next 50 years, when I am 80. Well, I know where I hope to be, and what I still hope we do. And if I had to make a list now for her, based on all of our experiences together so far, it would read something like this:
To my four-year-old daughter; when you are eighteen, I still hope you let me hold your hand – yes, in public (and I pray you will continue to hold mine when I am eighty and crippled).
Hopefully we will still bake together for family birthdays and holidays and look at pictures of baked goods in books and on the internet. Maybe Cake Boss’s grandkids will be running the family business by then.
I hope I can still cook you steak (and that you never stop asking me to make it for you).
I hope you will always adore your father (I know it sure helps me to do so, wink) and are patient with your mother – and visa versa.
I hope you always want to share the big decisions in your life with me. This week it was deciding to share your dessert with your brother. Who you will marry, where you wish to travel to, and the projects you love the most – I hope I can be there to witness them all (and there’s an extra ticket for mom if you’re going someplace tropical or ancient).
I hope that one day you too will know what it is like to have a daughter. To brush her hair while she squirms, to find her raiding your makeup, to walk in just as she’s flushed your pearl necklace down the toilet. And I hope you know what it is to watch a pint-sized version of yourself scarily remind you of all the ways you struggled as a child.
I hope that, despite all of my mistakes, you still are proud to call me your mother. That you see how hard I tried in between those unfortunate blunders and that you come to love the person who, at the end of the day, was learning just like you were.
I hope you still retain a little of an English accent – for daddy’s sake.
I pray that we will always forgive each other.
Lastly, I hope your gift of Faith grows and cements you more firmly to God’s will for you. I don’t know what Our Heavenly Father wishes for you yet, but I’d love to be there in some way as often as I can.
And if you are a mommy one day, I hope you remember to call me and invite me to mass with you and the grandkids– that way I can encourage when you have to take your daughter outside a million times, knowing that she does outgrow it.
And really, they all outgrow it far too soon.
Dear baby girl, you are my first and will always know me at my best and worst. Hopefully, the bests are what you remember most. That I was there for every ballet class and every math problem, as well as every sign of the cross you made before meals and bed.
I hope I am made worthier of your love with every passing year, and that you can always find a way to love this mama of yours, who will never outgrow her role, ever.
All my love, signed the one making you steak again tonight.
Copyright 2012 Marissa Nichols
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