Growing Up

Hopes and Dreams


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November 10 , 1999

My daughter is growing up right before my very eyes. OK, this sentence, taken on face value is a mere statement of the obvious. But it is so much more.

Those of you with children know this. OK, you learned it. OK, we all know it. Everyone grows up. But the watching it is something that is truly amazing. Something so incredibly special that it boggles my mind.

Zoe loves to hear stories about when she was a tiny baby. She loves to hear the story of when she was born. She delights when I show her how tiny her hands and feet were compared to how big they are now. How she fit in a blanket she now uses to wrap up her doll. How she liked to be a baby burrito.

In so many ways she's so little. But in so many ways she is a big girl. And an independent person. A separate person from me. She has her own thoughts, ideas, personality, likes, dislikes, whims, fancies, and dreams. And she's not shy about expressing them.

I loved every second of being pregnant (until the labor part). I loved how safe and secure I felt. I felt whole and then some. There was life inside of me. It was magical. I knew my baby was safe and that nothing could harm her (we knew it was a her) while she was inside of me.

I remember when I was about 6 months pregnant. Chuck and I went to visit some friends who just had their baby. I asked the wife if she didn't miss the being pregnant part. Having her baby safe and secure inside of her. Well, her pregnancy was not as glowing as mine and she was pretty well done with the whole thing and was glad it was over and that the baby was out of her. Finally. I couldn't understand it. Until I got that same feeling about 41 1/2 weeks into my pregnancy. The "over it" feeling. Let this damned thing get out of me already. It moves all the time, kicking parts of me that have no business being kicked. I'm up half the night with indigestion. When the heartburn isn't bothering me I have to pee.

That said, when Zoe was in my tummy I knew she was safe. I knew I could protect her from anything because if anything was going to get to her it was going to have to go through me first. And there will be None. Of. That.

Zoe, like all newborns, was much like a potted plant. And like all new mothers I interpreted every incidental and insignificant thing she did as a great mind bursting from a little body. But she was mostly like a potted plant--except that she cried and needed to have her diapers changed.

Every milestone brought me enormous pleasure and pride. Every day she became more fun. More of a pleasure. More of a delight.

But I worry. I worry because I cannot be with her 24/7 to protect her. To guide her. To hold her hand and show her the way. Especially now. Some days I ache to hold her in my arms again, the way I did when she was so little. To hold her to my breast and protect her. To shield her from anything and everything. But that is not possible. OK, nor is it practical.

It is our job to teach our children. To show them the way. Right. Wrong. Good. Bad. Kindness. Compassion. Caring. There is so much to show them I don't know how we do it. Some people are less succesful at this than others.

Children are the kindest, sweetest, and also meanest creatures on gods green earth. They are kind to each other just because they are. They are cruel to each other without knowing they are doing it or why.

I feel blessed with the child I have. She is smart, funny, warm, gently, kind, giving, and loving.

But she is not connected to me anymore. She doesn't always want her mommy. She wants to do things her own way. She wants to express herself. She has her own ideas and methods of executing them.

A perfect example of this is getting her dressed. Each day is a new adventure. I think she should wear one thing, she another. What I choose is generally seasonally-appropriate and matches. What she is going to feel like wearing on any given day is anyone's guess. Woolly tights and a sleeveless sundress, cat costume, plaid pants and flower print top. I cringe. And each time before one of these spectacular combinations of colors, fabrics, and patterns is selected, it is prefaced with the following comment, "Momma, I have a great idea. Why don't I wear this _________________." (Fill in some god awful combination.)

"Pick your battles," the experts say. There are no fashion police at preschool. Chuck is better about giving in to this particular issue than I am but I'm working on it.

But I'm still not there to protect her. Keep her from feeling sad when someone is mean to her.

Friday night we had a long talk. She was in tears. The kids in her class were mean to her. Apparently she farted and everyone made fun of her. She wanted to go to a new school starting on Monday. She was absolutely distraught over this. It was tragic. OK, I had to hold in the laughter because the circumstances cracked me up. But how do you tell a three year old that this is not the end of the world? Everyone will forget about it by Monday morning. No. They won't. I can hear her little mind working.

I have great hopes and dreams for my daughter. The truth of the matter is, though, it doesn't really matter. She will have her own hopes and dreams. I just hope that I can give her the strength and skills she will need to achieve them.

Until next time. . .