My almost three year old is lying in my arms. She’s my very last baby and I feel her aging acutely. We are on the master bed watching Sesame Street. She’s singing along with Elmo. And clapping.
“What’s the letter of the day?” *clap clap*
And she’s completely naked.
Her fine blond hair is thickening. And curling. Her body is lengthening. Baby fat is gone. A few mosquito bites dot her thighs. Her bathing suit tan lines show how much time she’s spent playing outside this summer.
Oh my God. She looks like a preschooler!
Now she’s laughing at Grover.
Real sadness is foreign to her. Her older siblings dote on her every move. She falls? At least two other people swarm her with love and kisses before mommy even blinks. I haven’t lifted her from her crib in the mornings since school ended because her siblings always get to her first.
Now she’s somersaulting across my legs.
She knows nothing of heaven nor hell. She knows nothing of life. Nothing of what lies spread before her.
The social angst of adolescence. The struggle of achieving academically in high school. The apprehension of choosing a college. The exhilaration of a first kiss. The soul-blinding chest squeeze of true loss. The fierce competition of the workforce.
Beauty. Self-doubt. Marriage. Divorce. Religion. Government. Employment. Taxes.
She’s just in the moment.
Laughing. And naked.
I do what I can to protect her. Shelter her even. Give her a happy childhood to reflect back on when life finally dumps on her. But my time is limited.
Watching her age is different than when my eldest was this age. I’ve had time to reflect. Practice. Change my style. Correct mistakes (Sorry, Jack). The journey through our parenting years is certainly a soul-shaping mind-bender.
Yet, after 9 years as a mom, I still don’t know if I’m doing the right things. Sit and talk with adults and many of them either have strained relationships with their parents or none at all due to some issue the offspring has with the way they were raised. What if that happens to me?
So I still feel inadequate at times.
An imposter in the game of motherhood.
How do I instill in her everything she needs to be a successful adult?
Even worse, how do I face myself when she is an adult dealing with issues I failed to address during her childhood?
Surely someone else is far more equipped than I to raise this tiny human, so full of happiness and light.
The pressure not to screw her up bubbles like a lidded pot on high.