Heather at Disneyland -- December 9, 2010 -- age 11
It will now be recorded that this week, the week of February 20, 2011, was the week my sweet baby began to slip for longer periods into the realm of the "pre-teen". It seems silly to blog about this, but the changes that were once presented as glimpses here-and-there have now started to take root. I am both excited and nervous, and I'm also getting a wake-up call -- this is it, and this mama needs to get a grip. I haven't handled some of the outbursts so well. My heart is more open to this little girl than to just about anyone else. She loves so deeply and has, so far, been so predictable that one would never expect any darts to be flung from her direction. When that happens, my open heart is instantly crushed. I know these next few years will be but a small moment in her development, I know the shift is necessary, and I know that how I handle myself will be important.
It wasn't very long ago that I recorded my thoughts after that agonizing first day when I dropped Heather off for Kindergarten.
Heather's first day of Kindergarten - September 8, 2004 -- age 5
I sent my baby girl to Kindergarten today. My heart is so full of different emotions. I am happy to see her progression and to share in this new season of her life. School is so fun! But my heart is breaking beneath the smile. I have purposely stayed at home these past five years with her. Did I do enough? Have I loved her enough? Nurtured enough? Laughed enough? Played enough? Hugged and kissed and cuddled enough? Did I spend too much time on chores and not enough time on her growth? Did I teach her to be successful? Did I leave out anything? Never again will we be at home together all day with no schedule but our own. She has begun her school path. She will not be my "mommy and me hanging out at home" baby girl anymore. I laid on the floor in her room on the eve of my last day at home with her and wept. I weep now as I write these words. I love her so much it hurts. I want her to be successful, and loved and cherished. I don't want her to be hurt, sad or afraid. I realize that I don't have control over any of these things, but I still desire them. Will she think of me during the day? Of her home, her room, her special things? Will her heart warm with these thoughts? Did I make enough memories for her thus far? I think we should have painted more, played more games, made more play-doh dinners. I have guilt over the days I slept in. The days she watched PBS for several hours while I got caught up on housework. I am so, so sorry about mistakes I'm not even sure I've made. I love her so much...
I continued to write about my realization that she wasn't going off to college, and of my gratitude for the sweet years to come. What is really hitting me hard this week is that this little girl is growing into a young woman, and I once again ask myself some of the same questions I did when she left for Kindergarten -- Have I done enough? Have I loved her and played with her, nurtured her and laughed with her enough? It won't be long before she won't want to listen to my advice or readily accept the things I tell her. I am once again on the edges of a changing season. Time has moved so quickly, and it is now slipping through my fingers. I know I have done so much in raising this precious girl, but will I ever feel like I've done enough?
She is not going to college yet. There is time. Today, I pray just as I did on a similar day seven years ago, that I will be able to savor the next few years with my beautiful girl, that I will handle the bumpy parts of the road with grace, and that she will always, always know how very much she is loved.