My sweet baby girl will be six years old tomorrow. By the time this goes to print, my little Kindergartner will have torn the wrapping off her presents, blown out her candles, bounced on her brand new trampoline and proclaimed at least a dozen times that she’s a “big girl now!” And I will have cried at least twice that much. Every year around her birthday I get into a nostalgic mood where I go through old pictures, sift through boxes of her baby clothes that still smell like Johnson and Johnson shampoo, watch her playing and wonder where the years have gone. My baby isn’t a baby anymore and we’ve traded baby dolls and Dora the Explorer with an obsession with the forbidden bratz dolls and Phineas and Ferb. Instead of cuddling with her lamb that played Jesus Loves Me she dances around the house with her iPod, rocking out to the latest hit from Selena Gomez. We’ve replaced her tap shoes and tutu for pom poms and a cheerleading uniform and it seems as if overnight my little girl is turning into the woman she will one day be. As I mother I constantly worry if I’m doing the right thing, saying the right thing, if I have somehow someway screwed her up and she’ll need years of therapy to undo the damage her mother has done because, let’s be honest, isn’t it always the mother’s fault? Or will she go to college, graduate with her doctorate, get married and give me grandchildren as beautiful as she is and thank her “wonderful mother” when she wins the Nobel Prize? Or will she split it down the middle and spend her college fund backing packing through Europe with a guy named Sven? Who knows, but as mothers, what can we do to ensure our children grow up to be happy, healthy, strong and independent ?
I was a stay at home until Prinny was two but my favorite part of the day was her middle of the night feeding. Yes, I got to enjoy my child, read to her, build blocks and take her to the park but nothing could compare to that precious hour late at night when it was just she and I alone in a rocking chair, the pink glow from the nightlight illuminating her face. I would look down at this tiny little bundle curled against my chest, her big blue eyes staring up at me, rapt with attention and filled with nothing but love. I would sing to her and whisper into her ear the hopes and dreams I had for her. She would snuggle up against me, lay her head on my shoulder and I would rub her back, rocking her until she drifted back to sleep, my heart literally aching because it was so full of love for this innocent little girl. The days of holding Prinny as she sleeps are long gone but the habit is still there and I catch myself walking into her room late at night, sitting on the edge of her bed, brushing her tangled hair off her face and whispering into her ear that Mommy loves her. I still get nostalgic and long for the days where I could just scoop her up and smother her with kisses but seeing her grow and change is the most rewarding part of my job.
When Prinny first started walking, that baby hit the ground running. The second she figured out her little feet could move that fast, she was off. She never slowed down and was constantly getting into something. I put her in baby gymnastics when she was a year old. At a year old, Mary Lou Retton she was not but she looked so dang cute in her little leotard that we stuck it out. Then we got into the world of dance. I wanted her to learn classical ballet, pirouettes and other fancy shcmancy terms that I have to Google but I mostly did it because the outfits were so stinkin’ cute it was ridiculous. Then at age four, we decided to do soccer. The sport isn’t exactly known for the cute factor but Prinny wanted to try it. And try it we did. Somehow, I got lassoed into coaching her team and up until a week before our first game, my soccer knowledge was limited to the ab definition of David Beckham. While I can only compare coaching four and five year old girls to herding cats, it was the most fun Prinny and I have had in a long time. And dang it, she was good. For the first few games she was more content picking flowers on the sidelines but then her competitive nature kicked in and that baby girl was hustling all over the field and even managed to score a goal or two. As a coach I was ecstatic that we were actually winning but as her mommy I was so unbelievably proud of her I thought my heart would burst. Soccer season has come to an end and now we’ve entered the world of cheerleading. I do believe my baby girl has found her niche. She runs out onto the court, poms poms waving, ponytail bouncing and that megawatt smile and I fall in love with her all over again. We’ve done piano lessons, sports and dance but the joy on her face when she is out on that court is second to none. I was sitting in the bleachers last Saturday morning, watching her yelling for the basketball team and I knew in that moment that I must have done something right.
It’s been six years since I first brought my little bundle of joy home from the hospital and we are in no way shape of form where I thought we would be. And I couldn’t be happier about it. Our life is crazy, hectic, chaotic and the most fun I’ve ever had. I get to wake up everyday and be the mommy to the most amazing little six year old girl in the world and I swear, I don’t know how I got this lucky. The best part about being a parent is that moment when you realize that despite all your shortcomings, you are raising a terrific kid. I’ve tried everyday to be a woman that my little girl can grow up to admire and be proud of in hopes that she too will one day raise her daughter the same way. Prinny is this wonderful mix of sass and independence, attitude and laughter. These past six years have been the best of my life and I can’t wait for the next sixty more.