Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

8

My daughter is graduating the 8th grade this month. I’m not ready. I’ve  spent this year trying so hard to slow down time. I think I have spent her whole life doing that. She certainly took her sweet time getting here, but she’s been playing catch up ever since. 

When she was born I promised myself I would never say things like “I can’t wait until she’s sitting, or crawling, or talking.” I knew from experience that those things would happen soon enough. I had waited 17 years for this baby, I wanted to enjoy every single minute. She never got that memo.

From the day she was born she was in a hurry to grow up. When she was just a few hours old she kicked herself free of her swaddle and refused to be restrained. By the time we left the hospital she was lifting her head and smiling. She rolled over at three weeks. The day she turned five months she sat herself up, and never once toppled over. I would plead with her to slow down, but she had things to do.

She never babbled. I love when babies waddle over and tell you long stories that you absolutely can not decipher. I love when they garble words, they sound so cute. My baby never did that. At 14 months Emuna was using full sentences. She knew colors like magenta and chartreuse. At Grants Farm she did not just point at birds, she would say “look at that macaw!” 

She never seemed to need me. Her mantra was always “I can do it. I know how.” Once, when she was two, I put her clothes down and told her I would be back in just a few minutes. When I returned she was fully dressed, every button done and shoes buckled. I was so proud even while my heart broke. When she was 5, I left the bathroom to go check on her sister. Emuna called me back and said ‘look Mommy, I washed my own hair, you don’t have to do it for me anymore.” I smiled at her and then went to my room and cried. How could I tell her that washing her hair and sitting with her at bath time was my favorite part of the day? Why did it feel like I needed her more than she needed me?

I tried so hard to keep her my little girl. There was just no pinning her down. She was always on the go, always moving. She always had a plan, and a backup plan or two if things fell through. I have always been amazed at her strength and self confidence. There is nothing quiet and shy about her. She is resourceful and smart. She always knows who she needs to call to accomplish her goal, and she is not afraid to do it. To be honest, sometimes I am jealous of all the things she can do that I can not. Sometimes I wish I could be more like her.

She has grown more than 5 inches this year. She has blossomed into a beautiful young lady. There is a dignity about her that  I occasionally get a small peak of. Every once in a while she does something so amazing that I get a glimpse of the woman she is becoming.  When that happens all I can do is stare in amazement and send words of thanks to the One above who gave this tremendous gift to me.

Other times I look at her and I can still see traces of the child she used to be. When she calls me to come home because she is scared of the storm, when she allows me to do her hair or fasten her necklace, in those moments I am grateful that she still needs me. I hope that no matter where she goes or how successful she is, there will always be a part of her that needs her Mommy. 

On her graduation night she will stand up in front of everyone and recite a speech she has written. I will watch with a lump in my throat and a heart so full of pride and love. I will hug her and try to hold her, though I know her thoughts will already be on her friends and the party they will be having later. As I have done so many times before, I will be content with watching her dance through the crowd. I will smile when I hear her laughter. I will thank people who congratulate me and tell me how much they enjoy my daughter. I will watch her shine and I will say a prayer that she always knows times like these, that she goes from strength to strength, and that she takes me with her for the ride.

In the fall she will start high school. I call that the beginning of the end. High school means four more years. Four short years to teach her all of the things I want her to know. Four years to watch her grow and learn and mature. Four years to be a part of her everyday life. I know that it will go so fast. I know that the next time I blink, it will be her high school graduation. And I know that I will repeat the same line, “I’m not ready.’ 

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Shifra is originally from Virginia. She went to high school in Silver Spring, MD and lived in Jerusalem for 7 years before making her way to St. Louis in 1992. She has come to motherhood through adoption, fertility, fostering and teaching. She is passionate about children's rights and will advocate to make sure each child gets what they need to succeed. She is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and, later, domestic abuse. She uses her experiences to educate others and to help victims feel safe to come forward and share their stories. She is an active member of the orthodox Jewish community and resides in University City.

8 COMMENTS

  1. This is the essence of all we wish for in our children. However, the independence, capability, and sheer strength of soul is in direct conflict with what we long to nurture in them. You are at the center of all your daughter had become, even though it feels like you’re on the sidelines. You have got to be so proud! Enjoy every mountain that she scales and know that largely because of you, she has the confidence and poise to make those mountains feel like mere hills.

    Love this post. ❤

      • Wow! So beautifully expressed!!!
        You know that your beautiful Emuna has reached this milestone and accomplished what she has mostly because of you !!!! You are an exceptional mother and may you be blessed with much continued strength and good health to continue to be the AWESOME mother you are!!!

        • Amen! The only reason that I might possibly be a good mother is because I’ve got good friends to advise me!

    • I have had the wonderful joy of meeting her, and tou can see that her mommy has prepared her for what she needs at the moment she needs it. She may not med you to be there to wash her hair but a girl always wants her mommy. you did good with her Shifra.

  2. Shifra, your writing is amazing. Even though I haven’t had the zechut to see Emuna grow up, I can absolutely see her in my mind’s eye as you describe her. And how can any mother not connect to your feelings of both pride and sadness, knowing that you and Hashem formed this perfect person who will one day go out into the world without you? Except – you will always have each other and I have no doubt that she knows you are the rock without which she would never be the person she is right now and will be in the future. Enjoy each and every moment you have with her! And please tell her not to forget Doda Vickie!

  3. Beautiful thoughts on motherhood. Emuna has matured into a special young woman and in no small part because of your role in her life. You have been a model of strength overcoming adversity. I am sure that she is as proud to call you Mommy as you are to call her your daughter.

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