First steps: a stay at home mother faces letting go

 

While we were living in England last year, my husband Jake got a black eye playing rugby and I photographed the progression of his bruise during the week that followed. So, when our daughter Maren fell off her scooter and got her first shiner — in the very same spot as her dad’s! — we all thought it’d be fitting to take photos of her bruise as it changed. But what began as a silly set of photographs, ended up revealing much more.

                                    

 

 

 

 

 

The week I was taking this “shiner series”, I heard a song that I’d never heard before called “Never Grow Up” by Taylor Swift. It played at Maren’s dance studio, as I held her sleeping brother and watched her doing shuffle steps and pas de chats and giggling with her classmates. It played as she turned around, smiled and shot me an “I love you” in sign language. It played as I wriggled a hand free to shoot her one back and watched Rhys stir in my arms, flash a gummy smile and go back to sleep. It played as I looked back and forth from one of my children to the other and realized the warning that having a second baby would make time go by twice as fast was absolutely, heart wrenchingly true. And I play it now, as I look at these five photos of my daughter’s face. Seeing a young girl looking back at me, rather than my quirky baby or traveling toddler. Realizing that Maren’s bruise is not the only thing that is changing.

This year’s dance class was the first activity that Maren attended without me or Jake by her side. Summer camp will be the first time she will be away from home for a few hours each day. Half days at preschool will come next and, in the years to come, those short classes will give way to full days of schooling, new friends and after school activities. Once she finishes school, she may decide to move to another city or even another country. She may go on to get a job or start a family or both. Whatever she chooses, ever so slowly and yet all too soon, new interests and new people will begin to fill up her days. All too soon, my days of leaving surprises for her to find when she wakes up or hugging her when she gets hurt or reading her a favorite story will end. All too soon, I will become a voice on the telephone, a letter in the mail and a visit that passes before I’m ready to say goodbye.

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Nursing, changing diapers, napping.

                                      

 

 

Playdates, potty training, travel.

 

 

 

 

Painting, reading, playing.

 

 

 

 

Answering every question in her active little mind.

      

 

Loving her so very, very much.

 

 

It all snuck up on me but here we are. After four and a half years of holding her close, it is time to slowly begin to let go. A bittersweet process that will last the rest of our lives.

Letting go of a hand I’ve held each day since it first touched mine.

 

 

Of a face I know every detail of by heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 Of a person whose mind and heart are simultaneously my most precious gift…

 

 

and the most sacred thing I have to share with this world.

 

 

As Maren takes these first steps into the world on her own, I think about who she is right now. She’s a girl that wears Thomas the Train underwear under her pink leotard. A girl that genuinely fuh-reaks out with happiness that a new friend’s name starts with the same letter as hers or that they both love the color pink. A girl that loves avocado and sunbutter sandwiches. A girl that takes the time to notice the flight of a flock of birds or the way the sky turns dark before a storm. A girl that hugs her Dada in front of her friends, shouts “I love you” to her mama across the playground and tells everyone she meets that she has the best little brother in the world.

 

 

She’s a girl that falls down, gets hurt and tries again without a second thought.

 

 

She’s a girl that shows up for her dance class’ year end photo with a black eye and smiles without hesitation. Feeling every inch as beautiful as she is.

 

 


Maren is four years old.
 


She is innocent and confident. Hopeful and curious. Brave and kindhearted.
 


She knows just who she is. And just what she likes.
 
 


She feels no pressure to be “cool” or “right” or “mainstream”.
 
 


And she knows, without a doubt, that the people she loves most in the world think she’s fine just the way she is.
 

 

 

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In fact, they think she is more than fine.

          

 


As she steps out into the world, I hope three things:
 


That she never grows up to be simplified or watered down or made hard hearted.
 


That she always feels as safe and as treasured, as strong and as free as she does right now.
 

 

 

And, most of all, I hope that she never forgets the love and the fun and the magic in our first four years together … even if the details grow fuzzy in time.

 

 

 

 

 

{You may also like Transitional mom: becoming a mother of two}

 

 

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 About Sarah Scott

Sarah Scott is an Occupational Therapist turned stay at home mother of two. Passionate about mothering, photography, travel and living an intentional life, she muses on the growing pains, little victories and all the simple joys of motherhood on her blog, 

The Salad Days.