The length of her entire body is cradled in my arms as she contently sleeps snuggly wrapped in a small blanket. I could stare at her for hours and never kiss her forehead enough times. She’s beautiful. Tiny. Perfect.
We’re picking out a backpack for her first day of Kindergarten. Where did these past five years go? Are they all going to go this fast? I stop to take a picture of her by a tree outside of our apartment before driving her to her first day of school. She smiles a proud smile. She’s a big girl now afterall – she’s going to school.
She’s ten and making crepes and cookies and blackberry tarts from scratch (by herself) in the kitchen. They’re tasty and cooked to perfection. She has been making creations with paper, scissors, and tape for years now. Everything from shoes for herself to dollhouses to accessories for her dog. They are quite clever and intricate.
She’s a big sister! Life flipped upside down and all around. She took it in stride and was/is such a big helper to mom and dad.
She’s a senior in high school. This has gone way too fast. It feels like she was five yesterday. She has a boyfriend. Seriously?! A boyfriend?! Not only that – they’ve been together for 2 years! They’ve known each other since they were 8 (church camp) and we feel very blessed he is such a compassionate and responsible young man. We enjoy having him over and he has gotten to know our family very well.
Now Niki has her license! What?! I still see her as my little girl. What if she gets in an accident?! Oh, how difficult it is to let go. But…I did today. I let her drive herself to her Apparel Design class and to an interview for a job…in HER car. She was VERY fortunate to inherit her papou’s car (her great grandpa) after he passed away earlier this year. My eyes will be glued to the clock as I anxiously await her arrival home – praying all the while for her safe return.
She got the “job” today. Her first (non-babysitting) job. It isn’t technically a job – she’s not getting paid. It’s a volunteer position at a special needs school but I told her she needs to treat it like a job since they will be relying on her to show up to help. It is an intervention program for children with special needs such as autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, etc. It offers special education and therapy services. Niki will be helping the teachers/therapists a few times a week.
It’s not so much that I never want to let her go but rather the realization that my devoted time to her is coming to an end – she’s 18 this coming summer. I’ve taught her so much and yet I feel like there is so much more I still want to teach her before she lets go of my hand and walks through the world on her own without me. Did I prepare her to handle all that awaits her?
Have you ever read the book “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch? I used to read it to Niki all the time when she was little. I even made up my own tune for “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” I tease Niki now that I’m going to be buying a ladder when she graduates. I never fully appreciated that part of the book until I’m at this point now. I already told her I hope she rocks me when I’m a little old lady too. The whole banter back and forth between us about this book is our little way of saying to each other, “I love you and I’m going to miss this stage of life with you but we’re both accepting that time moves us forward not stagnant.” It’s not easy though.