The Investment of Long Days

We celebrated your birthday and part of me wants to ask where has the time gone? These past eight years of you as my daughter. Where did the days go?

But I know exactly where the time went. Into loving you.

Into being the one who feels like home. Into being the safe, soft and quiet place to rest and release. It was the place where you laid your tears, your frustrations. I collected it all until you were ready to walk away and leave it with me.

It went into waiting until you were ready. Into creating a buffer between your sense of comfort and other people’s expectations. It was the space that you grew into, warming to the world. I held you and sat with you, negotiated for you and spoke for you. I stayed at your side until you knew it was safe to scamper away. And how you have! Like I always knew you would.

It went into pushes on the swing that you don’t ask for so much anymore. Into castles in the sand decorated with sticks and flowers that you now make with friends instead of me. Into dancing in the dark until you fell asleep to the beat of my heart that now comforts me when you are away. Into twirling you in the same pool where you now backward flip all on your own. Into Easter egg hunts and birthday cakes and pink dresses washed until threadbare. Into ballet tights and soccer Saturdays, ice cream sundaes and movies in the park.

Into pattycake and rock, paper, scissors, shoot! Into this little piggie and My Little Ponies. Old MacDonald to soothe your trips in the car and bedtime stories, a labyrinth of lengthening limbs and slowing breaths. Into traveling and skiing and skating and jumping the waves. Untangling ringlets and spinning mermaid tales in the bath. Into whispering, go ahead- it’s okay, and laughing loudly as you found your voice and your funny bone. Into admiring those soft rolls that became graceful curves of muscle and strength. Into counting loose teeth and each additional pet. Into watching you sleep and witnessing when something inside of you wakes up.

Into watching you open and dare until I’m just the voice of caution and permission. Into holding your hand until you are far more balanced without my help. You don’t need my height to reach the monkey bars now and you climb beyond my reach. And this is what it is all about.

Into encouraging you to try again and again. Into giving up my plans because you needed me more. Into making you feel bigger because you’re smaller than me. Into waiting my turn because right now it’s yours. Into taking responsibility for my happiness because you are only responsible for yours.

They say the days are long but the years are short as a way of softening the time we spend, as if that’s a bad thing. I see it as an investment in everything that matters, not to be softened but solidified.

These past eight years have gone into our relationship. Into listening to you not because I had to, but because I wanted you to be heard. Into giving you what you wanted not because I can’t say no, but because I can say yes. Into building you up not because I have nothing else to do but because this is the only time I have to do it. Into nursing you and sleeping with you and staying home with you not because I am too attached, but because that’s how we become attached. Into trusting you to trust me to trust you as we grow together and apart. And that is the most beautiful gift of my life. It is the most beautiful gift I can give you.

A base of surety. The rock of all your ages.

The hours in the days in the years have gone into creating a home for you. Into owning that task not because I know better than anyone else, but because I want you to know yourself better than anyone else.

The time has gone into uninterrupted sleep when your body unexpectedly needed to grow. Into long play days where relationships, ideas and skills blossom without a bell to move on. Into many focused hours of a game, a piece of art, a video series, dance and dress-up and sidewalk chalk and bike riding and being a kid for being a kid’s sake. Into opportunities to eat whenever your growing belly was hungry for whatever it was hungry for. Into trying and quitting and finding what makes you so happy that you don’t want to stop.

The past eight years have not gone into preparing for age eighteen or eighty. (How silly does that sound?) But rather into the moments that are piling one upon another; a big, fat, lopsided pile of togetherness and play and connection that threatens to topple into a heap of love and laughter.

Because these past eight years with you, my dear, sweet, bright girl, have been full of that. In this beginning.

And in the end, I find that the time hasn’t gone anywhere. We’re carrying it forward, with what we’ve made together, into what we have to look forward to.

It’s a dynamic life and while we may hunker behind doors in scarier times, the windows will be open to let in light from this time we’ve had together.

These long, long hours with you at my side. Listening, laughing, chattering, asking, getting to know me- a woman, a mother- with rhythms and ideas. Taking me into you as you carve out your own sense of self. Walking with me as I venture about the world and show you ways to settle in, new ways of reaching out.

Because I know that as the years continue on, we’ll both reach back. I in nostalgic sentiment and you in setting your course. These eight years have gone into where you will be from, from where you will spring.

The time may be gone but I am comforted that I gave it to you. Of all the places I could have been, I’m really glad that I stayed. In all the best ways that I could.

 

  • Jean Dorsey

    Beautiful <3

  • Catherine Forest

    I am speechless from so much beauty and love. The work we do might be the toughest of all some days, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Thank you for your wonderful words. Their depth resonated far into my soul. I needed to hear them tonight.

  • Shel Frolich Tscherne

    A completely gorgeous peice that totally hit home for me. My oldest daughter turns seven next week and you have said so beautifully what my heart has always felt. Thank you.

  • Cheryl

    Oh my god. Speak it truth!

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