When my daughter was younger she used to wish upon the sun, using the logic that our sun is a star. She would alter the well-known rhyme to “Starlight, star bright, first star I see alright. I wish I may I wish I might have the wish I wish in daylight” and she would make whatever wish her heart called in that moment.
She also prays to the Tooth Fairy. After each tooth lost, all eight now, before we start to read our story for the night, she will quietly lay down on her bed, fold her hands together at her chest, close her eyes and send a prayer to the Tooth Fairy that she not take her tooth, that she understand her unwillingness to let this literal piece of herself go just yet, and could she please go ahead and leave the money anyhow. (If you were wondering, of course the Tooth Fairy always answered by complying).
To date, this sweet girl always asks before she gets a piece of candy or sits down at the computer or to watch TV. She makes sure she is “allowed” and at closing in on eight, I wonder how much longer this will last. How will her way of checking in with us change? When will she stop asking permission and instead choose to ask for forgiveness? How did we ever raise a girl concerned with rules?
Curled up close at the end of the day, or as we are at the sink brushing our teeth or at the breakfast table or randomly in the car she will say “Thank you for being the best mommy in the whole world!” I’m never sure what I have done to deserve those words, and certainly could give you a long list of things I have done to prove I do NOT deserve those words, and yet she gives them to me, a gift straight from her soul into mine.
I am in awe of this girl child growing into a young woman. I’m not always sure where she came from, and the joke in our family for a long time was we didn’t know who her mother was. Despite all my foibles and outright failures she is a beautiful person, shining brightly every day. I’m honored to be her mama, and I hope as she grows and our relationship has its storms, we both always remember this: She is her own Self—she is not mine even though she came from me, both my body and my heart, and I will always love her and be proud of her, even when I don’t agree with her or her choices.
Because there will likely come a day when she makes a choice that worries me or scares me or worse: reminds me too much of myself. I pray that I enter those times with grace, allowing her to be her own person, make her own mistakes or even prove me wrong with my worry or fear. I pray I don’t get lost in my own ego and judgement and that I am gentle with her, even more so than when she was an infant, even more so than I am now. I pray I always let her know that no matter what, I am her mama, I love her, and she always has a place in our home.
I pray for a life for her I did not know. I pray for a relationship between us to be one I did not have with my own mother until it was almost too late.
I know in my heart, it will be different, she and I will be different, our relationship has already been different these first seven plus years. And I breathe in the truth that I let go of the stories of how children should be raised and how girls should act and held onto my own truth of what it means to be a mama, what it is to raise a child with love and respect and compassion, what it means to raise a girl into a woman.
And so my prayers may already be answered as I look over at this beautiful girl, engrossed in a game of creation. Her gangly legs bent and her posture that of a teen already. I say another silent prayer: please slow down, please let me savor these between moments a bit longer. Because the truth is, it all goes too fast, even when we are paying attention.