What My Daughter Taught Me
We encourage our kids; why can’t we encourage ourselves?
Coco is 2 and a half. Two and a half! I honestly have no idea how that happened. Last thing I remember she was a lumpy bump of sweet-smelling baby squish, snuggled up against my chest, breathing. God. The simple, sweet, exhilarating act of listening to her breathe occupied hours of my day. Now, she’s about to start school. School. Okay, it’s pre-school and it’s only two and a half hours a day, four days a week, but still. She’s all, “I’m big girl, Mom!! I wear underwear now! No more diaper!” This is an actual sentence she said to me yesterday. Except big girl sounds more like beeeeeeeeg guuuuuuuhl! And it’s true that last week, out of almost nowhere, she decided she was potty trained, and she was. Seriously. She doesn’t even wear a diaper to sleep anymore. If it sounds like I’m bragging, I’m not. I want to beg her to slow down but that doesn’t make any sense. Because, really, what’s she supposed to do? Crap her pants some more because her mom needs some time to catch up emotionally??
I’m 37 years old for one more month. I’m dealing with some pretty tremendous changes in my life (an impending change in my marital status not the least of it). My impulse is to try to go back to when she was a lumpy baby, to go back to when the most complicated decision I had to make was what to eat in order to make her more boob milk, to go back to when her Dad and I were happy together, to go back to just listening to her breathe. But there’s no going back. I recently heard a wise person say, “If you’re not progressing, you’re regressing. There’s no such thing as standing still.”
To Coco, progress means potty-training herself. And going to school. And being a beeeg guuuuhl. For myself, what progress has meant in recent months, is learning, for the first time in my life, how to take care of myself. It’s meant eating well, it’s meant doing everything I can to get enough sleep, it’s meant finally, finally going for formal meditation lessons (which have been transformative).
In the past, when I would go through a break up, taking care of myself meant bars and boys and comfort food and lengthy, self-obsessed conversations with my best gay boyfriends into the wee hours. But today, I have a responsibility to do it differently. More than that, I have a desire to do it differently. Because I’m a mom, and because my kid is sharp as a tack, and because she sees everything and she feels everything, I have a responsibility to show her what it looks like to go through a hard time, feel all your feelings, even the grief, and come out the other side.