Age 6 & 7
Age 8 & 9
As I approached my tenth birthday, I remember mentioning my excitement about the milestone to a neighbour. She shook her head emphatically and said, “You don’t want to grow up”.
You’re on the cusp of your own tenth birthday, but I’m not going to say the same to you.
You do want to grow up – to live, love and embrace all the experiences the world will throw at you; those you choose to embrace, and others you will have no choice but to.
But I’m not going to get ahead of myself. You’re still young, with a head full of delight and curiosity. You observe and consider; absorb and reflect. These are talents, will offer ballast, during the times you will need to call upon your centre when making judgements and decisions. As I’ve – we’ve, your father and I – guided you through your first ten years, naturally we will help do the same for the next ten, and as many years we have left on this planet.
I’m also realistic – we are heading for change. Teenage years – even tweens – will require strength, but I won’t be doing my job right if I don’t encourage your independence. No doubt we will challenge each other, but I will always love you.
How could I not?
Do you know the very first thought that popped into my head the moment the midwife placed you into my arms, seconds after birth?
I thought, still reeling from the tumult and agony and agency of the birth, “Oh, that’s right, I get a baby”.
Well, I didn’t just get a baby, I got you.
When we were on holidays at Christmas we went down to the footbridge at the back creek. It is a local rite of passage to jump off the top, as it is a respectable height. I didn’t jump off it until I was in my later years of high school. Yet, as soon as you learned of its existence, you wanted to jump. And after a day of deliberation, you did. Your cousin waited in the water underneath, just in case; your father and I watched on from the dock, ready to jump in if needed.
You barely hesitated, just stepped off into air.
And in the second it took to hit the water I realised your strength.
It takes strength to be a woman, and what a woman you will be.