I recently stumbled across this picture of my daughter and me from a few years ago and it made me stop in my tracks.
Why yes, I was about 20 pounds thinner. And yes, you’re seeing correctly, she is using my face like a human jungle gym. She also was in her REAL cute mangy-haired phase. But none of those are the reasons it made me gasp.
It hurts. She loves me so fiercely, it hurts.
In this picture, she is literally climbing on my face just to be that much closer to me. I don’t remember what happened after I took this picture, but I probably started tickling her and I’m sure we laughed and laughed. We bonded. We made a memory.
Back then, I wasn’t working. I was a stay-at-home-mom, solely focused on her. She was my world. She still IS my world, but things have changed. She started Mother’s Day Out, I started working part-time. Eventually this whole blogging thing fell into my lap, and I took it and ran with it. Now, I’m on the eve of starting a full-time marketing position as she starts her second semester of kindergarten. She’s becoming more independent … and I’m becoming less okay with that.
And despite the fact that I am overjoyed that the long, winding path of my career has finally led to somewhere I want to be, the guilt is immense.
What have I done?
Have I made a terrible mistake?
What if she still needs me?
What if she thinks I don’t love her enough?
She’s not adjusting super well to this new phase of life. Earlier mornings, less play time at home, a very irritable and tired mama, and all the big five-year-old feelings of angst are building up. Add in asthma, family illnesses, kindergarten queen bee hierarchies, typos on flyers that result in missed book fairs, and the fact that it gets dark at like 4 p.m. and eventually, she has to break.
And the hardest part is knowing I may not be there when it happens.
I’ll be there in spirit, of course, and the minute I get my hands on her, I’ll wrap her in the tightest hug. I’ll wipe those over-dramatic crocodile tears and kiss her and sing “You are My Sunshine” until she finally smiles that million-dollar smile. But who will be there to pick up the pieces when they first hit the floor?
My little girl, once so tiny and sweet and edible, isn’t so little anymore. Her five year old feet are already in size 2 shoes. She’s reading on a second grade level and sassing me on a ninth grade level. But at the end of the day, she’s my best girl.
Because I love her, and she loves me.
Despite my flaws, she loves me.
Despite my tendency to yell, she loves me.
Despite my overloaded calendar and my eternal busyness and my impatience … she loves me.
When it’s bedtime and she won’t stop talking to me, when she climbs into my bed at 1:00 a.m. and digs her cold toes into me, when she barges into the bathroom unannounced with some request that could easily be taken care of when I’m finished but has to be done RIGHT NOW … it’s because she loves me.