In ten days she’ll be eleven years old. For the moment, she is ten, and quite content to be so. No longer a baby, not yet a young woman. Not a little girl, but a girl in every sense – long-legged, unrestrained, full of joy and life.
When I get her out of her bed in the mornings she goes to my room and crawls into mine, watching TV and eating her cereal and talking to me as I shower, primp and dress. She watches me choose my clothes, watches me put on my makeup and fix my hair. She giggles at something on the television and then asks me how long it will take for her to need a bra like the one I am wearing. “Forever” I say, hopefully, knowing that it will likely be far sooner than I am prepared to accept.
She tells me about a boy in her class who always seems to be staring at her. She confesses that she likes him and that it makes her feel very nervous and distracted. She’s old enough to wear a bra and young enough to still want stuffed animals for her birthday presents.
She writes constantly. She keeps three or four journals, and she writes her most honest thoughts in them, good and bad. She wears her heart on her sleeve and she hasn’t yet learned how to put up a protective wall around it. She is astute enough to recognize her parents’ faults and to love them anyway. She is wisdom and innocence intertwined.
She reminds me of all I once wanted to be. She makes me both hopeful for and afraid of the future. She is my touchstone, my muse and the embodiment of the best aspects of her father and myself. She is the reason I breathe and when I watch her move she takes my breath away.
She gives the best hugs of anyone I know. No little weeny squeezes from this one, not ever. She hugs you like she means never to let you go. When she hugs you, you have been HUGGED.
It is the nature of children to change right in front of your eyes, for the babies they once were to disappear and be replaced with older and ever more refined versions of the adults they will someday be. I try to picture her in my head as the sturdy toddler, the unrestrained preschooler, the shy first grader, and though all of them are part of her, she is as far removed from them as the moon from the sun. She is everything I ever hoped for in my daughter and a million things more.
She is ten for ten more days. I will treasure each day as I have treasured each day since the day she was pulled, protesting at the top of her lungs from my womb. I am blessed by every day I have been privileged to witness the becoming of her. I pray I am privileged to witness many, many more.