Silence can be hard. I’m not talking about the silent retreat where I was not murdered in my fitful sleep. I’m talking about silence that used to be filled with easy conversation.
Gracie turned 10 yesterday. My even-tempered, affectionate, smart, funny, sensible yet silly fashionista who prefers her own company to the company of mean girls, is a decade old. And it has begun to show.
Lately I’ve noticed that she volunteers less information about her day. She’s nowhere near as terse as a teenager, but the stories don’t come pouring out of her the way they used to. She used to climb into my lap first thing in the morning. Now she heads for the computer to check her email. Not too long ago, she decided we don’t have to read together at bedtime anymore.
It’s a little sad.
I know: she’s just growing up. It’s unavoidable. Independence is a good thing, blah, blah, blah. But I can’t help looking ahead to the end of the next decade when (if I’ve taught her well) she’ll have a network of smart, loving friends who’ll provide her with support and laughter and a ride home when she needs one. I just hope she’ll answer my phone calls. I just hope I’ll know more about her life than my mother knew about mine after I left home.
I can’t bear to think of the distance that might separate us.
My challenge now is to allow our relationship to change without freaking out. To trust her enough to give her (age-appropriate) freedom and then make it easy for her to share her adventures with me. I find that if I am quiet and really patient, she starts talking. Unfortunately panic comes more naturally to me than patience.
Sane me: She’s independent because she’s healthy. It’s natural for her to be less open as she gets older.
Insane me: I hate this.
Sane me: It’s unavoidable. Did you think she would sit in your lap when she is 20?
Insane me: She’s only 10!
Sane me: You two are still very close.
Insane me: I don’t want to lose her. Ever.
Sane me: You aren’t losing her. Don’t be so dramatic.
Insane me: Don’t be so apathetic. This is our girl!
Sane me: You really are being silly.
Insane me: Oh, yeah, well you’re a big fat jerk!
Sane me: There’s no need to…
Insane me: La-la-la-la! I can’t hear you!!
When she was a baby, her eyelashes were golden. For six months she didn’t sleep unless I held her.
I know. I know this is all part of growing up. I don’t really want her to live with me forever.
And I know she will grow up to be a kickass woman. But every time I see her take a step away from me, it’s a struggle not to grab her and hold on tight.
Still, there are days when Gracie seems content to be my little girl. At the movies yesterday, she snuggled up next to me. Afterward, she giggled at one of my silly jokes, asking me to say it over and over again. It was heaven.
Happy birthday, baby.