My daughter is quickly growing up.
Everyone says it happens like that; you snap your fingers and—poof!—they’re grown.
I glance over at her as she sits cross-legged on our wooden floor by her stack of favorite books.
She’s pointing at brightly colored drawings while animatedly reading aloud from a treasured selection, and then she’s suddenly running across the room to where I also sit cross-legged. She plops down in my lap, her face inches from mine, her smile beaming up into my face, and I feel a tear leak out of the corner of my eye.
Almost three years old and so big—and no longer my baby.
I smile back into her eyes before she turns around, excited for her chance to listen to me read the book out loud—and as we repeat this ritual for the millionth time (of just that morning), I think of the many things I want to teach her.
Of course, I hope she’ll want to practice yoga with me and ride bikes with her daddy. I hope, too, that she’ll study the yamas and niyamas and yearn to go backpacking in the woods.
I’d like her to learn Spanish and to play the piano—yet none of this is my real dream for her.
My real dreams for my daughter are quite simple.
I want her to be kind, to treat people with respect.
The world is often a lonely place filled with anger and frustration, and I want to teach her that much of this pain can be avoided if you don’t fall prey to gossip and lying and hurtful behavior. Rather, if you send love and pleasantness out into the world, I wholly believe you’re more likely to attract it right back to you.
I want her to be confident.
There’s a falseness in arrogance, which stems from an internal well of insecurity instead of self-love. I want to show her that to extend kindness out into our world, it’s important to first extend it inward, to yourself.
I want to help her understand that our flaws and personal struggles have this strange tendency to lead us to understanding and compassion, because these unique imperfections bring with them their own special values. If we can learn to embrace both our light and our shadows, then we’ve moved away from being afraid of the dark.
I want her to be rich.
I hope that she knows that this has nothing to do with money.
I’d like to share with her that having people to love who love you in return makes you wealthy.
I want her to have faith.
I want her to know that faith doesn’t mean believing in a particular God or ideology, but that having faith is knowing that there are things in this world that we cannot easily see and hold in our hands—and that these are the things that matter.
I want her to remain a child.
She should know that you can grow into an adult without losing your curiosity and easy humor. She should also know that inside we’re all still small children, but that some of us just pretend we’re not a little bit better than others.
I want her to believe she’s capable.
I hope that she can see her dreams floating on lofty clouds high above her head and think without a trace of doubt that she can build a long enough ladder to reach them.
I hope she knows that everything she aspires to be, she already is.
I want her to know that I love her.
Sometimes my daughter looks at me with such honest adoration, and I hope that she still looks at me this way once she’s figured out how fully flawed I am.
I want her to know that I’ve never tried so hard in my life to be as good at anything the way that I try to be her loving mom.
I return from my thoughts and look down at my tiny lady, her hand reaching up for mine. Ours fit together like puzzle pieces, and the really odd thing is that I wasn’t even aware mine was missing anything until it held hers.
My heart feels like this too.
I bury my face in her soft, curly hair and tears prick the backs of my eyes.
Almost three, I think in shock.
And I know I’ll be sitting here, my wet cheek pressed to her tender head, thinking almost 13 and I’m not quite sure how those years passed by in only minutes.
So as she grows, and I grow more, I remind myself of what it is that really matters.
And it’s not messy kitchens and dirty clothes or even learning to count and read—it’s being in these cherished moments exactly as they happen so that I know, while they may have zoomed by with unfair speed, I didn’t miss a thing.
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Ed: B. Bemel