Dear Daughter… I promise you’ll forever be my little girl

See that pink ballerina standing next to her momma?

Let me tell you a little story about that girl. You see, she’s four-years-old and last week, her preschool sent a paper home with instructions for her to think about what she wanted to be when she grew up and return to school Wednesday dressed as her future self.

Fast-forward to Wednesday, today, and here we are. My daughter is standing beside me dressed head to toe in a pink ballerina outfit that she pulled from a tote of costume clothes earlier this morning. Hang with me here, guys, because as with any toddler-led decision, there’s more to this story…

She could’ve chosen anything, you know. In fact, at any given moment over the last several days she had declared to be a little bit of everything: a firefighter, a teacher, a superhero, a doctor, a gymnast, a police officer, a pony. Yep, you read that right. At one point, she had announced that she was going to grow up to be ‘Rainbow Dash’ from ‘My Little Pony’… As much as I wanted to encourage her independence and unconventional self-discovery, I obviously felt the need to re-direct so I gently responded,

“Sophia.. Baby, ‘My Little Ponies’ are not real… You get to grow up and someday become a real adult. And you get to be anything you want!… but it has to be real. You can’t be an animal, silly girl. Think about all the adults in the world with all the different jobs they have… What kind of job do YOU want to have when you grow up? What kind of person do you want to be when you grow older?”

She stared at me blankly, with a confused look in her eyes… “Mom! I don’t know! I just don’t know what I want to be! When I grow up, I just want to be your daughter!”

My daughter.

Oh my dear girl…

Be. Still. My. Heart. In fact, this felt more like a shot to the heart…

A piercing moment. A moment I didn’t see coming. A moment that I thought was simply defined by going through the motions of motherhood on a random Wednesday morning… but as I stood there, trying to reason with a daughter, I unexpectedly found myself in this sweet, memorable, ‘melt your momma’s heart like molten lava’ kind of moment.

These are the days we parents live for, am I right? Moments of being struck in the gut by our little toddler tornadoes who drive us so crazy. Moments we think are normal circumstances but turn out to be memories we want to cling to forever…

And here’s the thing- they don’t last long, these moments. In fact, it was only seconds later that my daughter had already moved on to something else. A new idea of what her future held. She eventually settled on becoming a ballerina, dressing herself in a leotard, sheer tights, and a pink tutu… but as the clock progressed and we continued with our morning, I couldn’t let go of that moment.

I held on… and I held on tight because listen:

I know that someday, I’ll watch that little girl walk across the stage as a high school graduate. Someday, I’ll listen to that little girl tell me all about her big scary job interview that probably went better than expected. Someday, I’ll watch that sweet girl fall in love and become a wife as she walks down the aisle in a fancy white dress. Someday, I might even get to call myself a grandma as I watch her enter the role of motherhood and deliver new life into this world. In all of these ‘somedays’, these new roles, these new titles, new positions, and new stages… there is one thing that will always remain the same and that is her role as my daughter and of course, my role as her mom.

Sometimes, often times really, it is the most simple moments that lead to the most profound memories. This was one of those moments… and while I didn’t get the big words or the life lessons out with her directly at that time, I’m writing them here tonight because I want my daughter to someday look back and understand that I heard her. I heard her words. I felt her anxiety. I felt it deep within my mama bear soul…

My dear sweet Sophia, you have a sparkle of confidence and strong self-assurance that many adult women struggle to ever attain. At only four-years-old, you already light up the world with your free spirit, fierce courage, and great big heart. You will do big things, I have no doubt. I don’t know what your future holds but I’m writing to you tonight as a reminder that you can be anything you want, even a prima ballerina or a fictional rainbow-colored pony… Whatever it is you chose to become, I promise to be standing there with you, as your proud momma, every step of the way. My dear girl, even when you become so old that you have silver in your hair and wrinkles above your nose, you will still be my daughter, my forever little girl.

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