A Short Time Ago
A short time ago, I waited and waited. "If she isn't born soon, will doctors go in there and take her?" I stared at my coworker, surprised by the wording and tone. "She's my little girl, she'll tell me when she's ready."
A short time ago, I labored and labored. "It's been days now, you should just go to the hospital and get it over with already." "You've tried long enough, you don't get a medal, you know." "Even though everything seems alright, maybe something is actually wrong." I stared at words on the screen from my online friends. "She's doing well. She'll be born when she's ready."
A short time ago, I struggled and struggled to breastfeed. "This is day FOUR and your milk isn't in yet. Just give her a bottle." "Aren't you tired of pumping AND breastfeeding?" "She's obviously never going to get the hang of it, just get her tongue tie done." I grimaced at the words over the phone and told them, "She's working hard with me. We'll find our way in due time."
A short time ago, my daughter was capable by my judgment, but hesitated. In all kinds of places. In academics. In sports. In friendships. I knew she could do it, but her mind would tell her to wait, to observe, to think twice. I bought her a bike when she was 3, but she refused to ride it again after her first try. "Just put her on it and tell her to pedal, and don't back down until she does it!" I quietly put the bike in the closet. "She will figure it out when she's ready."
The voices grew in number, and they surged like a peak in a song. "She's not trying hard enough, you're not pushing her enough," they would say. "Have you taken her in for testing? Maybe something is wrong," they would urge. In a whisper, some would drop phrases, "Selective mutism" and "autism." They'd knowingly nod. I'd stare at them, sigh, and grimace, shake my head, and turn away. I knew my daughter and my daughter knew I was on her side. "She will be ready when she is ready, and not a moment earlier."
A short time ago, my daughter quietly pulled her bike out of the closet. She rode it through the house over to me while laughing. "Mom, I want to ride my bike now." It was dark and had just rained, but I stood out there on the trail, laughing with delight as she rode her bike as if she always could.
A short time ago, I opened the door to the bathroom and found her reading a paperback book. "Do you read now?" I asked her, an odd calm in my voice. She smiled hesitantly at me, before opening up her excitement like a dam exploding. We suddenly had favourite authors and genres in common. "Let me introduce you to Nancy Drew," I whispered, almost strangled with happiness.
A short time ago, I watched her walk up to strangers and greet them. I watched her make friends with anyone, no litmus test necessary. I watched her try new foods and learn new languages. She blossomed, she opened, a flower blooming on her own time in all her glorious beauty. I wanted to shout to out to all those voices, "I was right! I was right! My daughter is who she is, and I stood next to this tightly closed rosebud and protected her!"
A short time ago, my daughter took my hand and said, "Come over here, Mom! Try this new ride! It makes your brain think you're sky diving. "Sorry, I'm too busy." In truth, I was too scared. Who would ever want to simulate falling?
A short time ago, she ran over to my side at the restaurant. "MOM! You have to taste this! It's delicious!" I hesitated, staring at the fork. "Um, I don't know. I like what I ordered. You enjoy it."
A short time ago, I watched my daughter approach new children at the park and begin talking to them. I looked shyly at another mom. I made eye contact, then looked down again. I stayed on the park bench that day.
A short time ago, my daughter yelled at the top of her lungs. "MOM! MOM! MOM!" I looked up, up, up, and saw her at the top of the tall slide. Just at the beginning of summer, she wouldn't even consider going with me on the little slides. I had begged her. Cajoled her. Told her it was safe and I would go with her. She had stood there, eyes wide, silent, shaking her head. Now, she was screaming down from the top, "MOM! C'mon! GO WITH ME!" I stood there silently on the ground, shaking my head. I couldn't ever conquer that slide. She went down alone. I sat that day and pondered a lot of things.
A short time ago, she asked me to climb a rock wall. "No, sorry. I'm too tired. The babies will need me. I don't know if I can do it." The words stuck in my throat. I looked down at her and smiled. I took her hand. We climbed that wall together. Just a short time ago.
What it's like to be 5...unconditionally