My husband records The Jimmy Fallon Show and if we like the guest or musical performer we’ll watch it after the kids go to bed. Sometimes I’ll show one of Jimmy’s hilarious lip sync videos to my daughters, and we'll laugh ‘til our sides hurt. What I never expected was to see my younger daughter watching the show without me. But there she was, curled up on my side of the bed wrapped in my favorite lavender blanket.
“I thought you were getting ready for bed,” I said stifling a chuckle at the sight of her looking like such a mini Rachel.
“I’m watching Jimmy Fallon,” she said matter-of-factly, as if this was common behavior for a nine-year-old child.
I couldn’t help but shake my head and smile. “Watching Jimmy Fallon … in my bed … with my blanket!”
My daughter giggled. “I wanted to see Justin Bieber perform his new song.”
Now it made sense. “Well, we can watch it together tomorrow. C’mon, it’s time for bed.”
My freckle-faced girl with curls in disarray crawled out of my bed, her legs looking unusually long. She obediently clicked off the antics of Jimmy Fallon and made an announcement—almost as if she’d been reading my mind.
“I’m growing up!”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.
Just in the last few weeks, her grown-ness has been very apparent. The way she neatly organizes her excessive collection of Bath & Body Works products on her desk … the way she puts her completed homework back into her folder each day … the way she strums her guitar and sings with more confidence than ever before … the way she reads thick chapter books and rarely needs help with the words. And the obvious one—the way she comes up to my chin when she hugs me.
The only time she looks like a baby anymore is when she’s asleep. Because the school bus comes so early, I have the privilege of going into her room to wake her up. I call this duty a privilege because in the morning light, I can see a glimmer of the baby she once was.
One morning as I leaned down to kiss her gently on the forehead, I thought to myself, I’ll never get tired of kissing this face. Never.
This feeling of absolute certainty gave me an unexpected sense of calm.
Yes, she may be growing up, but my love for her will never change. I am certain of that.
As the day went on, I noticed other actions—performed in the name of love—that would never change … no matter how grown she is … no matter how much we disagree … no matter what unfortunate circumstances might come our way …
I’ll never stop watching as she walks away from me.
I’ll never stop imagining what is to become of her.
I’ll never tire of that open mouth laugh that sounds like pure joy.
I’ll never tire of watching her love animals or sing Amazing Grace.
I’ll never stop noticing new freckles that pop up on her nose.
I’ll never stop worrying when she is on a field trip or traveling without me.
I’ll never stop wanting to know what’s going on in that observant mind of hers.
I’ll never stop wanting to protect her from disappointment, heartbreak, embarrassment, or harm.
I’ll never stop kissing her forehead.
In a world that moves at lightning speed
In a world where value is placed on the latest and greatest version
In a world where statuses, trends, and information are updated by the minute
In a world with little permanence, I am finding great comfort in the certainty of my love for this child.
I mourned the day when she stopped playing with her beloved Polly Pockets. She doesn’t like dressy dresses anymore. The girl who once thought toothpaste was too spicy tries sushi and hot barbeque sauce. The child who was afraid to dive off the blocks, jumps in with a little too much fearlessness now. She is not scared of thunderstorms anymore and walks downstairs in the dark when she is thirsty.
In a face that seems to elongate with each passing day
In a mind that expands every day with new ideas, hopes, and dreams
In a body that grows stronger and longer each time she crawls out of bed, I am finding great comfort in the stability of my love for this child.
I can’t predict much of anything, but I can predict that I will never tire of kissing her forehead as she sleeps. My love for this child will endure harsh elements, discord, distance, and time. This I know for sure.
Perhaps it is one of the few things on earth that is eternal.
My love for her is fixed. And it fixes me.
The other day, we were hastily trying to get her lunch packed before school and she said, “Sometimes the people that love us the most act the most grouchy towards us.” I stopped scurrying around and looked at her and smiled. “Grandma told me that,” she added.
I knew. I’d overheard my mom on her recent visit after my second kidney surgery. I was exhausted, achy, and not being very nice to the people I love. I heard my mom explaining my unpleasant behavior to my daughter.
My mother’s explanation had stuck with her.
“But Mama,” my child continued, “No matter how grouchy you are, I’d never want to be anyone else’s child.”
Never – there it was again. Such comfort in that word when it’s associated with love. Such comfort in love’s stability when so much is out of our control.
My friends, let’s sit with that notion for a moment. I think there’s something very hopeful here for us. If you are facing uncertain times … if you are standing on shaky ground … if your world is crumbling down around you … if your beloved people are growing up or away too quickly for your liking, try this:
Try watching them walk away. They might even turn back to wave.
Try watching them out there on the ball field … the stage … the lawn mower … the driver’s seat of your car. They might even look up and smile when they see you watching.
Try watching them eat their favorite cereal. Even drippy milk looks beautiful when running down the chin of that precious face.
Try watching them find you in a crowd. Watch how their chest relaxes when you make eye contact.
Try watching them sleep. Look at the peace settled upon those perfect eyebrows and flawless lips.
Although nothing much is predictable in this life, I am willing to bet you’ll never tire of these sights. Take comfort in the fact there is something that will never change: fierce love for that face you know by heart.
They might be growing up
The world might be crumbling down
But you are grounded in love.
You can be certain of that.
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