“Mom,” my daughter says to get my attention while I work busily in the kitchen. My eyes look up at her and my throat catches. In my mind, I half expected to see a 5-year-old standing in front of me. Silly me. She’s almost 11.
She takes my breath away. My vision is temporarily blurred with her long brown hair, big eyes, and graceful presence.
Am I seeing a woman or a child?
Then the thought comes to my mind that 10 years ago, I would have said only old people say, “They grow so fast.” But it’s true. I once held this child safely in my arms while nursing her. Now, in a flash, here she is before me on the threshold of womanhood, and I find myself in a different position. I can no longer protect her completely from this world.
I could tell she wanted to talk, but she was going to make me work for it.
After some gentle prodding, she was soon crying about how one of her friends mistreated her and how confused she was and how much she missed the friendship she once had.
My heart ached for her.
When she was younger, I could help her forget her simple problems with an ice-cream or an extra tight hug.
Now, I find myself not only offering comfort but also advice. When did this shift happen? When did she begin needing me for more than just kisses and cuddles?
I wanted to wrap my arms around her and tell her she never has to go into the big, bad world again. I wanted to say I would talk to her friend’s mom for her and that mommy is here to solve all her problems.
But she wasn’t coming to me for protection, she was coming to me for guidance.
She was trusting her heart to me and allowing me to see her fears and anxieties.
I opened my hand and she put hers in mine, and I thought this is just as sweet as the late-night cuddle sessions with my baby.
She’ll always be my baby, but I realized that day that something very special is happening in our relationship during her time of transition from little girl to tween: We are becoming friends, and it’s beautiful.