35″ is how tall my youngest is. We call her Littles, because that’s just what she is. As I rocked her to sleep last night, she slowly curled into the cup of my neck. She nestled her feet between my thighs, something both of my children have always done. She found the crook of my elbow and wedged in. It was as if she was putting together a three dimensional puzzle with her eyes closed as she softly sucked her thumb and rubbed the tags of her blankie. Off she drifted with little snores of her always runny nose.
As I rocked, I savored the moment. I remembered how three years ago when I was pregnant with her, I would go into her room and rock as I thought about what and who she would be. I looked at her lanky toddler body and tried to remember what it felt like when she was a newborn — a 20″ ball of scrunchy baby. Far too big now for me to remember that tininess. I took deep breathes of her freshly washed hair, long and straight like my own.
When I was pregnant with Bigs and found out we were having a boy, I was a little relieved. A friend had pointed out that a child looks to the parent of the same gender as their primary role model. I thought it was best that my husband would be our child’s primary role model. When we found out Littles was a girl, I cried. Overwhelmed by the thought that she would spend the rest of her life looking to me for guidance on how to be a woman. Uncertain that I could live up to the high bar I set for myself as a result of my own mother being amazing.
This morning as we bustled around the kitchen with breakfast for the kids, coffee for me, six pieces of fruit for my husband, jackets for everybody, Littles was busy clomping around in my 4″ heels. If they fit her tiny feet, she most likely would glide in them. “Ways my poose? I neeta gwo ta woke.” Her sweet little lispy way of saying “Where’s my purse? I need to go to work.” The words jolt me awake like no cup of coffee can. She wants to be just like me!
I’m not sure that is really a very good idea. I certainly have some good qualities, but there are probably more that should never be emulated. My mind reels as I make the three minute commute to work and then the eight minute walk to my desk. Hundreds of questions race through my head, but the one that sticks in my craw as I scan my badge and pull open the office door:
Will I be proud of her if she grows up to be just like me?
Obviously, she will not be just like me. She is a beautiful combination of my husband and I. Not to mention a reflection of the wonderful environments she is a part of on a regular basis. As a mother, I know there is nothing she can do to make me not love her and it seems unthinkable that I won’t be proud of the woman she becomes.
In the solitude of the elevator as it grinds up three floors my mind wanders. What if she is just like me? As she looks in the mirror will I criticize her for the 15 pounds she really should lose? Call her lazy when she collapses at the end of a long week and feeds her own children Nutella-drenched white bread? Question how she allocates her time when it comes to being a wife, mother, employee, friend, daughter, and sister? Put her down for saying the first thing that came to her mind that was neither funny, nor appropriate? Hate her for not living up to an unattainable standard social media has set in her mind for being a good mother? Tell her she is undeserving of time to herself?
Absolutely not! ABSOLUTELY NOT!
The elevator doors open and I briskly race to my desk, pretending to read my e-mail on my phone so as not to make eye contact with another human, which would most certainly end in them seeing tears welled up in my eyes. I get myself situated, unlock my computer, and pull out my trusty to do list. I try to focus on the seven tasks needing to be accomplished today, but think about that 35″ little girl who is watching my every move and emulating my actions and behaviors. I grab a pen to add one more item on the list:
Be kinder and gentler with yourself.