A plaid jumper hangs on her doorknob and every time I pass it, my heart hangs a bit heavier in my throat.
She was just sitting messy faced, her plush legs spilling over, her sage eyes wide. She was just looking at me like I was her entire world.
I tried to be all there, I tried to taste every bit of it, but I’m still afraid I missed something. Missed the babe becoming the girl–under my breath, before my eyes. She is a day, a year, six summers older.
And now she will sit there: pig tailed, cross legged, wide eyed, wonderful. Now she will know I am not the whole world.
Her teacher will guide her well, shaping her in way that I cannot and for that I am thankful. There is just a small problem: I cannot stand that it isn’t me. That I cannot do it all. I cannot stand that these years are over and never again. She is now a school girl, the toddler and preschooler and babe (oh the babe!) are gone.
These years, gone.
I know we mamas aren’t supposed to do this; we aren’t supposed to look back and let our stomach flip. But I cannot help thinking of all the sweet and hard and huge things and wondering if I did my best work. Thinking of the moments I could have savored more, the times I could have spoken with more calm and less edge in my voice. Do I remember her well enough? Her little voice and silly antics and the runaway hairs on her forehead, how she slept with both arms above her head?
I can hardly carry the weight of her for very long these days, even if she wraps her whole self around me. I can hardly carry the weight of other things too, but I load my arms full of them, holding my breath, gritting my teeth: her nurturing and knowing and soul and learning and growing and future and attitude and empathy and worldview and health and then I wonder my arms are burning and neck is aching. Maybe I am not supposed to carry her on my own. Maybe it’s okay to need help, to allow others to carry her with me.
I’m learning, slowly, gently, to trust the passing of the baton is okay: a relay & a village are okay. I get her back every day, safely, surely. I am her landing and her launching.
She grew big inside my body, grew up inside my arms and now she is going to grow a bit more in the world. It’s lovely and important and the most terrible thing. This letting go and holding on. This trusting and releasing. I’m no good at it.
But today, I send.
And today I keep.