I packed the last lunch of your kindergarten year tonight. I have packed 180-some lunches for you this year, not a single one of them including an actual sandwich because about a year ago you decided you no longer like bread. You have eaten almost the exact same thing all year. It started with homemade strawberry jelly and crackers, moved on to salami and crackers, changed to pretzels and peanut butter and then, after an unfortunate, very pukey incident of eating peanut butter while having the flu, went back to salami. You also get a yogurt, apples or strawberries and 1/2 a nutty bar. You have been a selective eater since birth.
I find myself trying to remember what it was like when you literally were my baby girl or a little toddler or preschooler. Somehow, inexplicably, it all seems fuzzy to me, and the images I keep reaching for are ones I’ve seen in pictures and videos, not ones embedded into my brain. However, there are more than a few unforgettable moments – some of our best and worst moments together as mother and daughter; first child and fumbling, newbie mom.
Unfortunately, I will always be fumbling a bit with you simply because all of your firsts will also be my firsts as a mother. I question and critique myself daily, relentlessly learning minute and monumental parenting lessons from you. Sometimes I’m awesome, sometimes I suck.
In the last nine months you have gone from knowing individual letters and their sounds to being able to read entire books yourself. You’ve learned to add, subtract, multiple and solve story problems. You chat with me about different art techniques, identify warm, cool and neutral colors and have gained a huge step up on making friends and how to interact with other kids. Saving face is hugely important to you, and I already see you becoming concerned about what others think of you. That’s hard to see. Because I know it’s just the beginning and could easily interfere with you becoming your true self. Self consciousness is the worst feeling. And while I hear you standing up for yourself often, I continue to focus on ways to boost your confidence and feel good in your own skin.
You are an intricate, complex girl that I can see is already trying to piece herself into the world and find where she fits in alongside all the other people and stuff around her. You are smart and beautiful and funny and clever and imaginative and quietly diligent and strong. You are very persuasive, stubborn and a deep thinker and don’t readily share those deep thoughts or the inner workings of your mind and emotions. I keep trying to find non-invasive ways to draw those things out, to bolster our relationship now cause I assume it’s only going to get harder as you get older.
You also learned to ride a bike without training wheels, but you hesitated to try it (to try anything) because of concerns about what others would think as they watched you learn a completely knew skill. I used to be the same way, and I want to scream to you, “Who cares what they think?!!! You are too young to care this much about how you appear to others. Stop it!!! Just have fun. Just be you. It is safe to just be you. You will be so much happier if you accept yourself.” But ultimately, you’ll have to learn these things on your own. I try to be the best example I can.
I keep waiting for the moment when you will stop growing up so fast. And it’s not amazingly fast, it’s painfully fast. You are quickly bounding forwards into your future as I stare, bewildered, reaching out to hold on tighter as I see you running towards everything that lies ahead.
I want to protect you from everything. I haven’t been able to. And I’ll never be able to. And that’s tough to swallow.
I love you so much. You are joy, happiness, complexity, craziness and peacefulness all in one. You are capable of so much – of anything – and while I’d like to block your rapid progression to adulthood, I am already trying to connect us in a way where you will always welcome me (or at least not cringe too much at my presence) in your life and experiences and trust me with them…with you.
I take it as a good sign that you will still hold my hand – that you seek it out – when we’re at school, at the store, with your friends. You still want to be close to me, be silly with me and play with me. About a month ago you told me the only thing you didn’t like about school is that I’m not there with you. I love that I am still one of your safe spots. I plan to be for the rest of your life.
I love you, I love you, I love you, my sweet, sweet baby girl.
- Dear Crosby. You might be a little crazy. Love, Mommy.
- Baby Number Three