I arrived home in the afternoon with my daughter and her friend – as I arrive home every Wednesday afternoon – prepared to usher them through homework, fix a snack, and hover nearby to calm frustrated, math-related outbursts, to listen attentively to their expressions of disbelief over what they are expected to achieve, and to answer an occasional question. Instead, my daughter was eager to show off her new trundle bed.
Her new bed is not like Julie Albright’s canopy bed (yes, the American Girl Doll, and yes, this has become a crazy-making reference point in our family) with its 1970’s beads flowing to the floor – but it is a proper-sized bed. Finally. At eight years old, my daughter has moved out of her old toddler bed. This one is tall. And wide. Very far off the floor. With a headboard. My daughter looks shockingly not-small in it when she’s sleeping.
I remember that toddler bed the first time she climbed into it. She was two. I had to stack giant throw-pillows on top of one another like steps so she could reach it.
So I stood by the kitchen door, checking my smart phone while my daughter showed her friend the bed. I could hear their muffled voices inside her new room with its fresh yellow paint on the walls. This room with no giant ledge for stuffed animals. With no tiny, three-sided bed. No pink walls. This room where chapter books, jewelry, and rock collections lined her shelves.
During our recent move, my daughter let go of the picture books we pored through over and over and over again, together on our living room floor, on the couch, on her old beanbag chair (since destroyed by the cat), in airplanes and in the back seat of our car. They have been given away or boxed up in the basement for that distant day in the future when she has (may have) kids of her own. Only a few remain – scattered like secret treasures among her big girl books.
I looked up from my phone, knowing she would soon emerge from her bedroom – where the door was now closed – with pronouncements of hunger, knocking into me with gusto – as if by accident – as she had so many times before, nearly every time before. Instead, she stepped out of her room gently, and with great respect and warmth, she said to me, “Mom, we’re doing homework in my room. Okay?” Not in the dining room.
“Of course,” I replied.
With something like awe, I watched her friend emerge, smile at me, retrieve her backpack from our front entryway, return to my daughter’s bedroom, and reach a hand out to shut the door.
Then I popped my head around the corner, asking, “Do you have your backpack, too, Honey?” I couldn’t help myself.
“It’s right here, Mom,” she said. And it was.
I knew in my bones as her door clicked quietly closed that we were catapulting into the unknown.
As we should be.
my breath leaves my body,
Can’t catch it quite.
This is all as it should be.
An hour later, she begged me to hang her coat on a hook because she couldn’t reach. Even though really, she could.
She felt it, too,
All as it should be.
This time, I asked her to hang it herself, even though inside, I was begging to do it for her.
Mother and daughter
finding our way,
fast and slow, open and closed.
We are both growing.