When I got home from Pilates class last night, Vivi was standing in the middle of the den with her pajamas already on and her hair dripping wet.
“What’s up? Why’s your hair wet?”
“I washed my own hair! In the SHOWER! Daddy said I could.” She threw her arms around me with such joy. I kissed her on top of her head.
“Good for you! Did you rinse it really well?” Ever the Quality Control Inspector, I took a long wet tendril between my fingers to test for slippery conditioner. She had done a really good job.
“Well, if you’re going to go to sleep-away camp, you have to learn how to take a shower. I’m proud of you.”
And I was. But my heart broke a little bit.
G and I have been washing her beautiful curls her whole life and now she can do it on her own. She wants to do it on her own.
When Vivi was really small, maybe three, I was bent over the tub trying to get all the bubbles out of her hair while she played with a family of floating plastic penguins. She didn’t like the water going in her face, so I told her to look up before I rinsed. She kept her head tilted down but rolled her eyes into the back of her head. “No, baby, look up with your whole face…point your chin to the ceiling.” She twisted her face into a grimace with her chin stuck out, but still didn’t tilt her head back. In growing exasperation, I said, “Look at the sky!”
It worked. She turned her whole smiling face straight up to the sky. And ever since, I’ve been saying “Look at the sky” when it’s time to rinse her hair.
Will I ever get to say that again?
What’s the next gentle thing that will go? Something I’ve been doing for her that she’ll learn to do herself? How will I tend to her as she learns to take care of her own body and her own heart? She fixes her own cups of water and pours crackers in a bowl for a snack. She is already dressed in the morning before I come out of my room. She reads herself to sleep at night.
I am learning the lesson that all mothers learn as our children grow into themselves. As my children rely on me for less, I’ll have more time for myself.
I’ll have my turn to look at the sky.