Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oh for a Way Back Machine

It may just be that I'm close to entering the Red Tent but I am feeling very emotional these days about my daughter.  There is just so much stuff surrounding her these days.   I am so aware of where her life is right now--more than I was with Colin (probably because she was an infant when he was this age.  Oy.  Now I feel guilty about that.  He was, in some ways, completely neglected at that time.)


Tonight while Paul, Colin and I were still lounging at the table after dinner, Marley was be-bopping around the house.  She passed by Paul and he stopped her to inquire if she'd been growing.  Paul and I have this tendency to ask this of our children in an accusatory tone: "Hey! What have you been up to?  Did you get taller last night?"  Because, really, it is astounding how you can look at your child one day and see a different, taller version the next. It is very unsettling.

We took her to The Wall of Measurement and she had not really grown any in the last month. But there are other differences.  Paul and I both see them.  The parents of her classmates see them.  She is changing. But the changes aren't just physical.  Her interests, her ability to manage herself, her awareness is all changing, too.

And I can't help but think about her future--both immediate and not so immediate.  Maybe her recent experience with being cast as Mrs. Gloop is influencing me.  Her disappointment was total.  She is, as I hope she will time and time again, turning her disappointment into a positive experience.  But I know there are so many more out there.  Lurking, like John Irving's Under Toad, waiting to catch her unawares.

She will feel unloved.
She will feel unattractive.
She will feel unimportant.
She will feel less than.
She will want something and not get it.
She will not want something and get it anyway.
She will be hurt by others.
She will hurt others.

It just goes on and on.

But I watch her at gymnastics, getting to ring the bell because she did a pullover by herself for the first time.

I see her confidence building.

I hear her teacher telling her what a wonderful job she is doing as Mrs. Gloop.

I see her confidence building.

I see her being given responsibilities in her class because she has been working at being a good role model for the younger kids.

I see her confidence building.

I hope it is enough.

I hope that she can internalize the positive experiences and the disappointments because together they are the warp and weave of life.  You become the person you are by how you deal with both.  And I pray for her.  I pray incoherent, gutteral, purely emotional prayers because the words are inadequate to cover all the protection and blessings I want for her.

And then I pray for myself to survive it all. Is there any way to get back to the simplicities of this age?

Marley, 18 mos. old

22 down, 8 to go


Mel said...

One of the harder things, when I bought this house, was the letting go of the marks on the wall.

They grow up so fast.....

((((( MaryLUE )))))

3 Bay B Chicks said...

Thanks for your e-mail yesterday. Great of you to take the time to write. Sorry for not identifying myself. (I forget to do that quite often!) My name is Francesca.

I tried to find your blog again through Google. I did not know that your title is from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe. Learn something new everyday. :)

Loved your post yesterday. Sigh. They sure do grow up fast. I share your anxiety over the bumps and bruises that kids will experience in life. For me, it is sometimes hard to accept that we just can't protect them from everything.

Aliki2006 said...

Oh, hugs to you--I know these thoughts well. I worry about T. all the time, because she's so little for her age. I worry she won't have self-confidence, or true friends. But you're right--they find their way, slowly but surely.

I love that picture of her at 18 months, I really do.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...


I love the term The Wall of Measurement. We don't have one because in the last two houses we've bought we've inherited and painted over previous owners' Wall of Measurement. Erm? Or: owners' Walls of Measurements. Or: owners' Wall of Measurements. Regardless: I felt so guilty about negating some child's growth that I vowed to NOT pass along the guilt.

Love the photo of Marley. With you as her guide and her mother I'm sure she'll whether the teen years beautifully.

Lamont said...

My own daughter turns 16 in spring and I can't believe it. Wanting so much for her, yet not trying to push and let her discover what it life-giving.

Here's to all of us growing up.

John Ross said...

MY son is 4, my oldest daughter 27.

They do grow up....and all that breaks your heart, then fills it worry, then you let it go ....then you get the picture - what you already knew.

great picture of marley at itty-bitty.

daisies said...

its so hard at this age i think ... i see it in my son at 14, i want to protect him from his insecurities, his pains glossed over and yet all i can do is be there when he wants me too and hope it won't be too bad ... sigh