In February of 2010 Emily was little. She was unabashed. She danced in the driveway and she didn’t take long to get dressed. She had bangs. She liked zip-up hoodies and sunglasses and the more accessories, the better. The Universe was all Emily’s. She wasn’t selfish but the only life she had ever known was one that was all about her. Today she went to a book fair at school and came home with several books for Lucy. “Because just because she is too little for school doesn’t mean she doesn’t get books, right?”
I don’t know exactly why I went digging through old pictures. Emily said something hilarious and followed it up with “Don’t put that on the Internet.” And I tried to remember when she became self aware. Was it last year? The year before? The year before that? She has changed more in the years since Lucy was born than she did in her entire life prior. She became something new. She is a Big Sister now.
Maybe that is what is different.
I tell her she is still my little girl. I tell her that she is lucky that she had me all to herself for so many years. I tell her that I love her. But sometimes I fear she will read through these posts someday and wonder where she is…. all this schmaltz about Lucy, what about me?
I am writing my story so I don’t forget. And when you looked at me on New Year’s Eve after I took a perfectly hilarious video of you and said “Don’t put that on the Internet” it crushed me a little bit. Not because I wanted to show the whole damn world how hilarious you are (well, maybe a little) but because I am afraid that as you get bigger and your story becomes yours to tell and I write less of it down… I will forget. I will forget the moments, the details, perhaps, but I won’t forget the Big Stuff. I promise.
You and I have butt heads this week. Big time. We had the first of many screaming matches that ended with us both in tears and me saying “Listen, Em, I’m not your friend, I am your mother. I know you are mad, and I am sorry. If I knew a way to be your mother without making you mad I’d do it. I am making this up as I go along, kid, and I don’t know much but I know I am supposed to be your mom first. I can be your friend in between the cracks, but my first job is to be your mom.” And you hugged me and you cried and you told me that it is so confusing. You told me that you do respect me and you’re sorry that you get so mouthy but sometimes it just feels like you are with your friend when we are together.
I held you tight and I cried a little louder. Because when you said I feel like your friend I felt like I was failing you as your mother. But succeeding as a person.
I don’t know what I am doing exactly, Em. You might as well know that. It is easy to teach Lucy the colors and the alphabet song. I have no idea how to teach you when it is hilarious to mock me openly and when it is disrespectful to even sort of roll your eyes. It is confusing. You’re right. But I am doing the best I can. And so far it has been good enough.
When you read all this some day and you wonder why I spilled my guts (and maybe a little of yours no matter how hard I try to protect your privacy) I hope you just ask me. Maybe I will be able to give you an answer by then. Because today? Today I can’t explain why. Writing it down makes things make more sense. And sharing it makes it all less lonely. Maybe you will understand that. Weird that in this time of my life when I am never, ever, ever alone – well, it is the loneliest damn time.
I am watching you play with your sister right now. You just looked up at me and said “Are you crying because of those old pictures? Don’t cry, Mom. I’m still little!” And you shook your tiny little butt and you smiled.
Yes. You are. For today. But you are bigger than you were yesterday and you don’t show signs of slowing down.