On Sunday, after seeing her overflowing Easter basket when she woke up, which included a 2-foot chocolate bunny, our daughter announced “You and daddy are the Easter Bunny!” Nick and I were in shock and asked her why she thought that and said things like “Would mama and daddy ever buy you that much candy at once??” all of which she gave a very narrow eyed knowing look to. We didn’t initially fess up to anything. We both want the magic of the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus to last as long as possible. We both enjoy the beauty of it all, of doing something extra special for our girl and not taking the credit. I hoped the conversation was dropped, with Nick and I neither admitting or denying anything.
Then in the car on the way to my cousin’s for the annual Easter egg hunt and brunch, she asked if her Daddy and I were the Easter Bunny. I again asked her why she thought that and we discussed it. She had That Look in her eye — that look that says “I’m trusting you to tell me the truth. I’m ready for the truth” and so I admitted that yes, her Daddy and I are the Easter Bunny. I didn’t say anything about the Tooth Fairy or Santa. To be fair, she didn’t ask about them and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there in six months or so.
Reality sunk in. My baby is growing up. She turns six next week and I’m filled with a mixture of joy, awe and sadness. The mystery of the Easter Bunny is solved and I realized in talking with Nick later that it was around this same age that I figured out that Santa wasn’t real, though in a very painful way, which involved my parents refusing to be honest with me and even threatening that Santa wouldn’t come if I didn’t believe.
I didn’t talk with my girl about the magic of the holidays and what the Easter Bunny (or Santa or the Tooth Fairy) represent to me or to her Daddy. We didn’t get into that conversation, however I’m sure we will at some point.
What was important on Sunday was that, when I looked in my girl’s eyes and saw how much she wanted and needed the Truth, I gave it to her. I’ve accepted that my child is both a little girl and growing into a very young woman. While only almost six, those pre-teen and then teen years do not seem so far away. The first six years of her life have been filled with Nick and me building strong attachment bonds with her, with each other and keeping open doorways for communication. The next six years will be filled with the same, as will the six after that and six after that and so on.
I’ve realized that what is key, what is most important is recognizing her individuality. Knowing that her childhood is nothing like mine. Knowing that I have learned much from the painful lessons of the relationship with my own mom. Knowing I am studying, for a career, about child development, attachment and families. Knowing I have tools and practices that were never available to my own mom and thereby knowing I will not follow in her footsteps.
My baby is growing up. She’s a child now. There’s no denying it. In the way she talks, her interests, how she can figure it all out. She’s independent, confident and has an inner spark and glow in her eyes that had left my own eyes by her age.
And while she is growing up into this beautiful person, and while she is no longer literally a baby, she will always be my baby. I will always be here for her when she wants or needs me. I will love her beyond the end of our days. I will always be on her side. She’s my girl.
One of the songs I sing to her at bedtime is You are My Sunshine (with my own lyrics). The closing line is “I love you more and more every day.” It’s true. Every day I love my girl a little more than the day before and every day I can’t imagine how I could love her more without my heart literally bursting. Yet every day I do. Every day.
Understanding and acknowledging and accepting her individuality, her personhood has been a huge part of our parenting. Treating her with respect. Allowing her to be a child while never treating her as if she is less because of her age. Parenting this way is hard, it requires me to dig deep almost daily and face my own past, my own fears with bravery and grace and a willingness to own my shit and grow as a person. It’s a tall order and some days I’m better at it than others. Some days are filled with apologies, tears and repairing measures while others are filled with laughter, connection and joy.
And so my girl grows from a little girl to a big girl. And our journey continues…
My mindfulness practice has had the greatest impact on my ability to be the parent I want to be. I want to share this practice, and the tools I’ve found and developed with it with everyone who is ready to grow into the person your Soul is calling you to be. My Grounding in Grace e-course is filled with mindfulness exercises as well as reflection and soul work. And I’m very excited about the video prompts I’ve been working on for this course. Because I strongly believe that to bring peace to the world we must start in our home, and because I so deeply do not want finances to prevent a single person from taking this course if she or he is ready, the program is Pay-What-Feels-Good and I also have scholarships available. For more information about the course and to register click here. The course starts on April 9th and runs for 30 days. I would love to have you join the amazing community that is growing around this program.