Little Miss loves me. I know this only partly because she tells me all the time. She’s the one who walks up to me and kisses my arm then looks up at me with her adorably sweet and innocent face and says, “I love you, Mommy, you know that?” She wants to cuddle with me when we watch a movie or when we’re hanging out reading. She loves to be carried around or just give hugs. She’s 7.
I know it can’t last like this. I’ll get to the eye rolling and the door slamming and the huffing and the shutting me out. And it breaks my heart just a little bit.
Right now she trusts me to do what’s right for her. She knows – and I explain how – I have her best interests at heart and I’m doing everything to help her. We do things she enjoys that I may not enjoy, and I have her work to help me so that we can have more time to spend doing fun things.
I have to hope that this will hold a little water as she turns to 14 and 17 and 21 and beyond. I’m hoping that there are vestiges of this innocent and sweet love that remain, this perfect trust that I wouldn’t ever do anything to harm her.
Controlling her – now or in her teen years – will never be a possibility, and I can only hope that I can mold and shape her morals and personality now so that she doesn’t veer down a path that will lead her to pain and heartache as she makes more and more of her own decisions.
The last thing I want to do is be the parent harping on her choice of boyfriend or her college major or what she wears or her job or any of those choices that could so easily have me worrying or cringing, trying to bite my tongue. I know sharing my opinion then doesn’t help. I was a teenager once, and nothing my mom said about my boyfriend or the classes I chose in school would have changed a thing for me. And with her stubborn streak a mile long, I know it wouldn’t with her either.
That’s the surest way to drive a wedge in our relationship, to push her from me and ensure that she keeps me at an arm’s length. And yet, it’s so hard to stop offering my opinions.
Sometimes she doesn’t want to go to her gymnastics class, but she has fun while there and is so proud of the skills she learns. She’s more afraid of missing out on something else fun or not wanting to work hard. And so I just smile and we go without making an issue of it. And inevitably she has a blast while there. At 7, she needs to learn to embrace hard work as the only way to ever see her way through to her goals. Because I have to say, I’d like to not have to work hard, too.
I see some of those relationships though where a mother is so obviously trying to mold her child in a specific image, pushing her this way and that into the perfect mold that she wishes. I rarely see it successful with a strong relationship or even a happy child.
And that’s what I want, now and in the future. I want a relationship with Little Miss. And most importantly, I want her to be happy. Just please don’t let her turn into a tattooed college drop out tending bar at a sleezy dive with a boyfriend named Spike who just got out on parole.
This post is part of the From Left to Write book club where we write posts inspired by books we read. This post was inspired by the novel “The Execution of Noa P. Singleton” by Elizabeth Silver. You can also check out my more traditional book review of “The Execution of Noa P. Singleton” on 5 Minutes for Books.