Yesterday, my daughter and I traveled to a stately old plantation house just south of town. There we met her wedding photographer to take bridal portraits on the grounds of the estate. I watched as my beautiful, poised daughter worked well with the photographer. The two of them seemed to read each other’s mind.
It occurred to me how independent my baby had become over the last twenty-one years. She knew exactly what she wanted. Not once did the two of them ask my advice or opinion. My job? To lift her train and carry it behind her while they relocated from one spot to another. Sure, the two of them could not have done it without me, but truthfully, she could have brought anyone along to carry her dress while she walked across the landscape from location to location.
She’s at that point in her life where she needs me, but doesn’t really need me. Both. And neither. Am I complaining? Sort of. But not really. Kind of. I have mixed emotions about my little girl growing up and becoming a woman. I’m proud of the woman she’s become. Sometimes I wish I were more like her. Sometimes she’s my role model.
She’s intelligent, thoughtful, classy, elegant, considerate, conscientious, passionate, compassionate, and opinionated. When she was a baby, I struggled with how to raise her. I knew nothing about children. Finally, after reading a lot of how-to books on raising daughters, I decided what I needed to do was be the kind of woman I wanted her to grow up to be. In some respects, I’ve failed to be the person I’ve wanted her to become, but for the most part, if I’ve truly been her role model, then I must have done something right. Or maybe she's become who she is in spite of me.
But as proud as I am of her for being such an awesome woman, sometimes I wish she could have stayed a little girl a little while longer. The instinct to protect her from heartache, nurture her with lullabies and cuddles and motherly words of wisdom, and shield her from the meanness of other people is still very strong, even though I know she has to move on into her adult life and make her own decisions. Even though I have to step back and give her the room to be her own woman.
Several times yesterday, while I watched her as she moved gracefully in her stunning bridal gown, tears welled in my eyes. Yeah, I cried. Mommy tears.
When the photographer would tell her to smile, a gorgeous smile would spread across my daughter’s face. She doesn’t realize how beautiful she is. Inside and out. She’s glowing and in love. She’s happy. Isn’t that what most mothers want for their baby girls? I just want her to be happy. With her life. With her husband. With the choices she makes. Whatever choices she makes.
I'm looking forward to watching her live her life and be happy. Even if that means I have to watch from a distance. But I want her to know when heartache comes, and it will because it comes to all of us at some point, I’ll be there for her. Because even though she’s a grown woman, she’s still my little girl.