Your little eyes are swollen tonight from crying, but I know how to comfort you. I hold you close, hum one of your favorite songs, and nurse the pain away until your breathing slows. Tonight, your tears are from teething pains and being overly tired, but I know one day, probably in a future that will come faster than I can anticipate, they’ll be swollen for big girl reasons. Fights with friends, heartbreak, championship losses, homework stress, the inevitable mother-daughter arguments. 

I hope in those times I will know the ways to comfort you, that I can still ease some of your pain and make you feel less alone. I hope your swollen-eye moments are few and far between though I know they’ll come regardless of how much I wish they won’t. 

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You’ll get bigger, sitting next to me rather than on my lap. Your favorite songs will change, and Lord knows you won’t want me to sing them.

Your feelings will become harder to navigate.

You’ll probably reserve some of the details of your heartache for only your closest friends, giving me the watered-down version, but I’ll take what I can get. I’ll do my best to listen, to respect your privacy while silently aching for the days when I could comfort you with an off-key verse of “Hush, Little Baby.” I’ll see your swollen eyes now lined with mascara and remember when those lashes were the closest thing you had to hair, how they tickled my skin as your face nestled into the crook of my neck. 

I’ll miss the simplicity of these hard moments. But I’ll also be proud of how complex you’ve become. These tears will be an indication of you growing up, of you living a life worth crying over. I’ll see how your determination as a baby has come to serve you now. I’ll note how glimpses of your sweet smile can still warm me from the inside out, and I’ll stay steadfast in my vow to do anything to take your pain away—even if that means biting my tongue so you can learn to trust your own instincts.

One day, you’ll have big girl tears, and I’ll do my best to comfort you at the moment.

I’ll probably lay in bed for hours after, hoping I did and said the right things. One day, I won’t have all the answers, and I’ll have to rely on you to tell me what you need.

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But tonight, I’ll sing your favorite song one more time, pat your back to the rhythm of my heartbeat, and savor the toothless smile that brightens your swollen eyes when I’ve done my job just right. 

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Lindsay Pagni

Lindsay resides in Reno, Nevada, with her husband and two kids. Her deep love for the written word inspired her to co-found Polished it, LLC, an editing and writing company. Most days, you can find her sipping iced coffee, talking baseball with her husband, and finding new ways to make her kids laugh.

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