Saturday, June 14, 2008

Eleven years, three days

So here's the thing.

My baby isn't a baby.

Eleven years ago, Craig and I brought a baby home from the hospital. I would be lying if I said she was a tiny baby - she wasn't, at a round eight pounds, five ounces, nineteen inches long - but she was the smallest one I'd ever held. And also the first one that I'd made. It was kind of a big deal, at least to us.

Eleven years and three days have passed quickly. We've watched her learn to crawl, then walk, then run. We've tracked her vocabulary until her words were to numerous to count. We witnessed as she learned her ABCs and numbers and colors. We helped her learn to write her name and admired her scribbled pictures.

And we've helped her with book reports and science projects. We've attended piano recitals and choir concerts. We've experimented with hair colors and hosted sleepovers and read book after book at her bedside, and sung "Puff the Magic Dragon" too many times to count.

And now she's become this gorgeous young woman, almost as tall as I, wearing shoes bigger than mine, with blossoming curves and more and more glimpses of the woman she's becoming.

I find myself alternating between sadness and infatuation with her new beauty.

When I use the word sadness, it's only because I don't know a better word. I'm not sad that she's growing up. No, quite the contrary. I enjoy the present Susie so much - and I wouldn't trade her for her toddler, or preschooler, or early elementary self. The sadness is more that this, the wonder that is her maidenhood, will end all too soon.

And when I mention beauty, I feel a need to justify it. Because I don't really mean, at least not entirely, physical beauty. Sure, as her mother, I think she's the prettiest girl ever to walk this earth, and I'd be happy to fight you if you say otherwise, but that's not really what has me so ensnared.

No, what has me so smitten is deeper. She has a beauty that shines through her eyes. She's so very alive. So vital. So funny. So alert. So confident. So graceful. So willing, and able, to negotiate the confusing maze that is tween-ness.

The girl has skills. She's good at the social thing. She's good at music. She's a great student. She's got the entire church wrapped around her finger, and has since she was a toddler. She's healthy, smart, and funny. She's the perfect sister, and the perfect daughter.

And she's reaching the age where it's becoming hard to write about her. She knows I'm writing, and she hasn't protested. But I feel a greater need to give her some privacy. Potty training stories are cute and funny, but her life is now hers, much more than it's mine.

I also, more than I ever have, feel that I need to protect her from the world. She's entering rocky territory. Sure, she'll handle it fine. She handles rocky territory like a mountain goat. But I don't want her to ever tell me that I made her life more difficult by writing about her on the internet.

So Susie will no longer be a major character in this blog. I can't say she won't be around, even in photos. She's too funny, too engaging, too amazing, for me to never mention. And she's too photogenic to leave out.

But she's growing up. And I respect who she's becoming. I have a feeling she'll be one of my favorite women, one day. All too soon.


Sue said...

I can relate to your feelings about your daughter. You do a great job of describing her, and it sounds like you guys have a great relationship.

I also struggle with writing about my son who is almost 12. He reads everything on my blog, so I have to be careful. Oh, how I wish I could write about first glimpses of hairy armpits and stuff like that. But that would be too cruel.

Enjoyed your blog.

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