Why I'm Okay With My Daughter Growing Up

[In her most recent blog post nido member, Theresa, reflects on what she really wants when she thinks about holding on to a particular moment in her daughter's development.]

I’m not a particularly nostalgic person, certainly not one who thinks such things as “I wish I could keep my daughter little forever.” Yet, lately, I’ve found myself wanting the days to last a little longer. Though my husband is the one who gets up with our daughter in the mornings, generously allowing me to get a little more sleep or take the time for a quick yoga practice or just lie in bed and have some uninterrupted time with my thoughts, I find myself hurrying through these things to join them, and at night, rather than looking repeatedly at the clock to see if, please, please, please, it’s bedtime yet, I find myself thinking that it would be fine for my daughter to stay up another ten minutes.

We’re in one of those golden phases. At sixteen months, my daughter is almost always happy, often exuberantly so. She understands much of what we say and can communicate back with us using a combination of words, signs, and actions. She wants to help. She loves going and doing. She is quick to show affection. Amid all the belly laughs and hugs and kisses, it’s hard not to want to hang on to this age and phase.

Yet what I want is not to keep her 16 months old forever. There is too much awaiting her—and me and my husband as her parents—to wish such a thing. (And besides, I don’t want to do diapers and teething forever.) What I really want is to find a way to preserve some of the characteristics that she has right now. Like the wonder with which she greets the world, marveling over every small thing, every rock and stick and leaf and even the dust floating in the sunshine. And her eagerness to meet others, greeting every person we see with a sing-song “hi,” a smile, and a wave, no consideration of their age or gender or race or religion or any of the other things we use to divide ourselves into “us” and “them.” And her confidence, the way she walks with a strut, the way she knows what she wants and does not hesitate to ask for (even demand) it. I want to find a way to make sure she holds tight to these traits or, barring that, find a way to bottle them up so I can give them back to her should she ever lose them.

The truth, as we all know, is that life will not always be kind. There will be days when the world seems anything but amazing to my daughter; days when all she will want is a familiar face, not that of another stranger; days when she is unsure of herself and what she wants. And as difficult as it is to admit, I also know that I won’t always be able to fix things.

But what good is there in worrying about tomorrow, especially when there is a today in which I can take action? A day when I can encourage my daughter to go ahead and pursue all of the things that interest her, when I can join her in saying hello to everyone we meet during our day, when I can lift her up onto the rock wall along our walking path and let her run free, when I can dance with her in the sunshine streaming through the window, the dust motes twirling along with us. All the while, of course, I will be hoping that even though she won’t remember any of this, she will, on life’s toughest days, recall the way these golden days felt and again have a sense of that same wonder, that same openness, and that same confidence she has now.