To my 8-Year-Old Girl,
I’m watching you swim in the pool surrounded by the summer sunshine for what feels like the thousandth time this year. Rainbow bathing suit, teal goggles, and sun-streaked blonde hair flowing wildly in the water.
Your twisted bathing suit straps look uncomfortable to wear, but you did it yourself. My offers to fix it have all been shrugged off; just another reminder that you’re growing up. Instead, you scurry up the ladder like a flash of freckles before splashing into the cool water.
This is the summer you could finally make it to the bottom of the deep end for the diving rings. It’s the summer you perfected your underwater handstand – sort of – but I clap every time your wobbly legs shoot into the air. This is the summer when all those swimming lessons came together and I don’t have to get in with you. I can relax poolside in my chair like the moms I was envious of just a few summers back. This is our first summer apart even though we’re together.
Your jumps are getting higher, your “tricks” more daring, but you stop to check the backs on your brand new unicorns earrings just often enough to remind me you are still my little girl. You look over and catch my eye before your next amazing stunt to make sure I see you. You want me present and watching every independent move you make. I can watch but not help. No, you remind me often you’re not a baby anymore.
Our conversations flow from talk of friends and Descendants movies to Paw Patrol and your nervous feelings about third grade. Some days, your never-ending chattering is almost more than I can handle. But today, among the splashing, laughter, and warm summer breeze I am taking it in. I’m trying to take you in. I want to keep this version of you in my heart forever.
I hope we can stay like this, you and me. Enjoying each other and our moments together. Sharing jokes, wishes, worries, and dreams while confiding in each other. I like being your rock. I like being home base. I love that you want me to see everything you do. You want me to be a part of all the exciting things.
I also know, it won’t be this way forever. I know hard years are ahead for us. If they’re anything like my teen years, my heart will ache for relaxing afternoons like this one in the not-so-distant future. I’m trying to ready myself and remain realistic about how life goes for mothers and daughters. It won’t be anything be personal, its just how the teen years go.
Soon enough, you’ll want me in the house so your tricks can be shared with your friends. You look at me like I’m crazy when I hint about that possibility, but I’ve been where you are before. I love how pure your heart is. I love the bond we have created so far. I hope even when I’m not your number one person down the road, you’ll remember those feelings and let them help guide you back to me.
Remember you are always loved, even if it feels like the world is against you. You are strong and capable of taking care of yourself. I am cheering for you through wobbly handstands and difficult life choices. When you look over your shoulder at 12, 16, and 18 – I’ll be watching like I was when you were 8. I’ll be watching for whatever amazing things you do, even if they’re a little wobbly. I’ll be counting down the days until you settle into who you are and, hopefully, fall back into me a bit.
I hope you remember your bravery as you grow. I hope you take chances, share your heart with others, and feel comfortable to make mistakes because you know your mom is cheering you on. Your secrets, wishes, fears, and dreams are all safe with me. They always will be.
Remember my love in your heart always.
I hope that someday, you’ll think back to the summer when you were eight with the warmest of memories and smile. We’re getting closer to the time when you won’t need me, or want me, around as much. I thought we’d have more time than this.
But for now, I’m taking in every freckle, giggle, and “mom look!” that I can. These days seem long but I already know the years are going too fast. I hope our days are creeping deep inside your heart whether you realize it or not. thank you for sharing your heart with me. I hope I’ve done the same for you.