As a mother in her early twenties, I brushed off when the women with older children would tell me about how fast your childhood will go. I didn’t think they understood how I was just going through the motions to get through each and every day that felt like an eternity.
But they did. They knew how I would feel as I watched you turn from 13 to 14.
Because here I am, a mother in her late thirties, mourning your little hum as you twirled around in the dress your grandma made you and dreading the day that I won’t get to see your hair down as you walk to the bathroom every morning.
We blink and then all the moments, the ones we really want to hold onto, just rush by.
And I often remind myself how lucky I was to get to be there while you twirled and poured glitter all over the kitchen table. There are so many days that I wish we could just go back to eternity together.
Here you are at 14. Your face is still the face I’ve looked at every day since you were born, but now your eyes meet mine when we are both standing and your wit outthinks me when we are talking.
There’s always been something special inside of you. Those moments when you stopped to hold the acorn in your hand, knowing that it could die within a few weeks or sprout to live hundreds of years; the ones when you don’t know where to begin to clean your room because every little item has a personal connection or a plan to become something new. There is this wonder and curiosity inside of you that many children lose by the age of 14, but you continually foster it.
I think the hardest part of watching you grow up is that it breaks my heart when I think you might lose even an ounce of what makes you, you. As we get older we sort and sift and climb into boxes and follow the stream of life. Then, inevitably, one day you look at yourself and realize you miss yourself.
Some people keep moving along with the status quo and others (I think this is what we call a mid-life crisis) sort and sift and climb out of boxes and hop on the next creek to find their own stream.
But all of me doesn’t want you to have to do any of that, though. It truly is unnecessary. You just have to know who you are and stick with that.
I’ve tried to allow each of you to develop who you’ve been since the moment you were born. And I’ve tried to move my ambitions for you to the side so that you can follow your own ambitions. I know that I’ve failed at this in some ways; and there are times when I even catch myself in the moment, knowing that I’m just not letting you be.
But Bean, the world in all of its “success” will not have the same priorities as you. It will give you science projects in a kit so that you can follow directions rather than figure out the puzzle on your own. It will tell you to put pretty bows on your gifts instead of coming up with riddles that are duct taped and scattered throughout the house. It will tell you that your job is who you are and there isn’t enough time to read your favorite book.
But I think the most deceptive lie the world will tell you is that you are not enough. It will always beg for more from you. There may come a time when you think your body is not enough, that your clothes aren’t enough or that you don’t have enough knowledge to complete a task. These types of lies draw us into dependency on family member, a friend, a business, an organization or a government.
But you, little bean, are enough. You don’t have to prove anything to me or to this world. You just have to be you in the spaces you’re in.
You don’t realize how gorgeous you are, your priorities go far beyond the clothes you are wearing and you know God blessed you with a functioning mind, two ears, two ears, two legs and two hands so that you can complete any task you put your mind to.
I know that our time together here in this house is limited. I know that I’m going to wake up one morning and you’ll be ready to go on your way, too. If you do call me when you’re 26 to ask what you should wear I will be overjoyed, but I hope that as you continue to become this gorgeous young adult, I’m also giving you the opportunities to learn so that you will feel the confidence you deserve to feel as you go out into this big world.
In the meantime, I’m going to try to figure out how to make the days slow down so that your time here with me is everything it should be.