I watch her sleeping peacefully, and I wonder who she’ll be. I wonder what will matter to her. I wonder who she’ll let through her walls, who she’ll trust with her secrets, who she’ll love.

She doesn’t know how long I prayed for her. She doesn’t know how long I dreamed I’d be a precious baby’s mama.

So now that she’s here and now that my years with her are flying by so quickly, I wonder what our relationship will look like as she grows.

I know I’m the one who will guide it. I know our walk together will naturally and inevitably land on rough terrain and perilous paths. And I know I’ll be the one to lead us through it, not around it, and then back to the path that takes us home.

I think about the thousands of things I’ll share with her—there’s so much I want to tell her. And I want her to know she can talk to me. About absolutely anything.

At four, I hope she’ll tell me about the friend she played with at preschool. About what she learned and how she grew. I hope she’ll share her feelings . . . as best she can in her 4-year-old words.

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And when she turns 16, maybe she’ll tell me how scared she was to drive alone for the very first time, but how it tasted something like bravery and skill and independence. I hope she’ll tell me what the mean girls said to her when she comes home crying. And I’ll tell her about all the times I’ve been hurt like that before.

She can tell me when she’s lost her way and acted like the mean girl herself. And I’ll lovingly stroke her hair and try to tuck it behind her ear, and I’ll help her remember who she is and how to get back to the right path again. I’ll remind her what a beautiful gift it is to have the strength to be the woman who lifts the others up—that it’s even more meaningful when you’re young and when it’s hard.

I hope she’ll tell me when she’s fallen madly in love, and I’ll tell her how vividly I remember the thrill and the joy and the heartache.

I’ll tell her I remember all the tough things that come with that experience, so she doesn’t have to be afraid to talk to me. And I’ll wait until I leave the room to cry ten thousand tears, my shoulders heaving as I think about her enduring all the things that I remember.

And then, when she’s 23, or 33, or even silver-haired, she can tell me about the most amazing things that have happened to her, and she can count on me to be painfully proud . . . so in awe of her that it hurts.

Or if at some point her life goes to shambles, she can tell me how she just wants to come home for a little while. To get her bearings. To start again. But she can also tell me if she needs to go ‘round the world to find something she’ll never find at home.

She can trust me to care about the little thingsfirst when she’s little, then when she’s grown.

She can trust me to appreciate the truth of her experience in the world. I want to know her biggest opinions and her deepest values. I want to see all the pieces of her heart. I want to know who she is at her core.

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I want her to know that what she feels is real and true and she has every right to feel it. It means something. I want to hear it all. I’ll be there, and I’ll believe her. I’ll never devalue her truth. And I’ll do everything I can to help her heal her anxieties and cast out her doubts. I want her to know she can trust me forever with her feelings . . . with her heart.

I want her to know I am with her, and I am for her.

I need her to know I will always be her safe space. And with me, she will always have a soft place to land.

And at the end of the day, no matter what, she will always be my baby.

She’s the precious girl I dreamed of.

And if this life with her is my only dream come true, I hope she knows it was more than enough.

As a matter of fact, it was everything.

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page

Cassie Gottula Shaw

I'm Cassie, and I'm a writer, mama, Jesus enthusiast, cliche coffee drinker, and lover of all the stories. I believe in the power of faith and empathy, radical inclusivity, and the magic and beauty of ordinary days. I'm inspired every day by the firm belief that we owe something to each otherlove and human connection. When I'm not writing, you can find me running from dinosaurs, building castles, pursuing joy, or watching the sun rise over the fields of Nebraska (coffee in hand) where my husband and I are raising two spectacular children. For more stories, visit my Facebook page, From the House on a Hill with Cassie Gottula Shaw; Instagram, Cassie Gottula Shaw; and the blog, fromthehouseonahill.com