Growing Up

In the excellent miniseries, Big Little Lies, there’s a scene where Reese Witherspoon’s character is talking to her teenage daughter. She says (and I may be paraphrasing slightly) ‘they don’t tell you, but you lose your children. The little girl whose hair I used to braid is gone.’ This line, and the way she delivers it, really hit home. I’m emotional now just thinking about it.

For my gorgeous girl is growing up. She starts secondary school in September, which I find hard to believe. It doesn’t seem that long ago we were counting cats on the way to school, pretending to be dragons puffing ‘smoke’ in the frosty air. When my dancing didn’t make her cringe, and the only phone she had was plastic and sparkly with a puzzle on the front. The gorgeous chubby cheeks I love to kiss are melting away, smooth cheekbones emerging, the legs and arms that once looked as though they had elastic bands around them now long and lean.

I’m excited, of course, for this next stage in her life, seeing her grow into the marvellous young woman she’s already showing signs of becoming. Every part of this process has been a joy. But oh, I get it now, when people shake their heads and say with a smile, ‘It goes so quickly.’ For it does, it does, and the change, when it comes, is sudden, a realisation that childhood days are gone.

For a variety of reasons, she is the only baby I’ll ever get to have, and I count my blessings every day. I’m so glad I got to dance, pick roses, blow bubbles and sing silly songs with her when she was small. Those moments are immeasurably precious, and always will be. I realise the teenage years will have their own set of challenges, and I can only hope I’ve given her a strong enough grounding that she can make good decisions for herself.

So now I must get past my tears, and look forward. For I am the stable bow, and it is time for me to help her fly.

‘You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth… Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness; for even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.’  Kahlil Gibran


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24 thoughts on “Growing Up

  1. I was the mother of only one child also–a son. I remember back to those precious days when every towel was a super-hero cape, wooden spoons were magical wands or swords, empty mayonnaise jars were excellent receptacles when hunting frogs, and every Saturday morning was about Lego blocks and Ninja Turtles (of which I can proudly name all four). Those days sped by me…I blinked and they were gone. Today, in place of that smiling, pretty boy, stands a strong handsome man, a faithful husband, a hard worker, and a guy with a wonderful sense of humor. I still see the little boy in his eyes from time to time, and I miss him desperately. But I think I have been the “stable bow”, and now I watch as he becomes one himself. I think I’ll go have a little “mom cry” now. Lol. Thank you for this bittersweet, nostalgic post.

  2. Ah, yes, Helen, the time passes very quickly. My sons are already 15 and 12 years old. Things have changed and they don’t want me around like they used to. They still like me to be in the house to bring them drinks and snacks but not to interfere in their leisure time activities and restrict computer time [smile].

  3. Precious times. But you might get to enjoy it all again with grandchildren, if she obliges – who knows, she might have four kids. It all goes so fast – when I pick up my grandchildren from school, I get a deja vu feeling, it seems like yesterday ( especially since they go to the same school!)

  4. Helen I feel the same and my big girl is 15. Still a big kid at times and a goof. It does fly by and I miss her already and she hasn’t gone anywhere yet! I think it’s those cuddles and snuggles that we have withdrawal symptoms from. I still get them from my baby girl. But she is changing too. For me it’s staying strong and leading by example. Trying to be the strong independent woman I want them to be. Indy is. Working on weekends. Baby sitting and making her own jewelery. She is going to sit a level 1 in dec and become an instructor. Between study breaks.Wants to study and save the world! One reef at a time! Oh I hope she can and I hope I’ve helped!
    She is a great kid and I’m forever grateful to have her in my life as I am with my other two! So lucky! But yes where did their childhood go!

  5. Great piece Helen – I’m in the same position as you. To me it seems like to whole of primary school has gone by in an instant. Will be stocking up on tissues for the next couple of months.

  6. The time truly does fly. My boys are 18 and 16 and my daughter is 14. Next year we embark on the final one’s journey to high school and the oldest’s first year of University.

    1. Wow! Time does fly indeed. When they first come to you as tiny babies it’s hard to imagine a time when they’re able to do anything for themselves, yet it comes around so quickly 🙂

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