Dear friends,

My baby, my first baby, will turn 19 in two days. I don’t know how it happened. I went to bed and she was six, and I woke up and she was 19. Life is funny that way.

Thirteen years ago when she turned six, I was so discombobulated by it I wrote a story. She had been my baby right through five, then bam! Six was entirely different. My baby was gone, replaced by a young girl.

This week as Kate passes another milestone that feels like a bigger bam to her mother, I thought I’d remind myself I survived the last one. Not without a few tears, but I survived.

With gratitude {for the angel who watches over mothers and reminds us we can take the next step},

Joan, whose heart is bursting with love and pride beyond what she ever imagined possible

Six is Wondrous New

A six-year-old girl is a most precious thing. A contradiction, a charm, a sprightly smile of blush and pride.

Even at five, she is a baby, my baby, hand and heart grasped in mine, and not yet initiated into the world of team sports, sleepovers, all-day school.

But at six, she is all about risk and motion, and fields undared, a tumblebug of queries to be posed full speed.

And six is wondrous new.

New challenges, new friends, new dreams, new notions unfold before her, a splendid banquet of awe and fear to be carefully tasted, some savored, some spat. And I in the shadows, waiting to offer encouragement that is rarely required or even asked, ponder her journey and my place in it.

I am not ready to release my grasp, my being, my daughter to the life that is becoming hers. Hers, not mine, in a separate form I can shape but cannot mold.

How do I capture the essence that is her, that is six, that is all my dream can ever be, of a child that is each day new, when I want to hold the moments in my hands forever? Not in my heart, not in my mind, but in my white-knuckled hands where her sum and substance never slip or fade.

And how do I tell her that she is beautiful, and amazing, and strong, and smart without sounding like her mother?  Mother, she might say, making her disclaimer in a tone I perfected.

Independence.  It’s a good thing, right? She runs ahead, skips pages, makes no quarrel with uncertainty, and feels not the qualms I harbor on her behalf.  She stands tall and straight, offering a smile at times most needed, unaware of evil or life’s disappointments more severe than a lost opportunity for ice cream. Her freckles sparkle in the afternoon sun and her toes reach for the sky, outstretched on a flying swing that traces a menacing arc.

She is my poetry, and I struggle to remember full verse. Yet, still I cry at its reading, and it moves me to want another just like her, and another and another and another, as shelter from the dangers of her journey.

But when I go to her at night and reach to share a bedtime hug, she makes me who I am. We lay still, our hearts beating to a matched pace, and she is six forever.

And one time, she holds longer than I, and offers a whispered rhyme as redress for growing up.

“I don’t want to let go because I love you so.”


  1. Beautiful.

  2. Beautifully written, Joan-Marie. Nail? Head hit. Musical cue: Sunrise, Sunset…

    My question…. In light of this can you think back to when you turned 19 and understand the way any particular scene between you and your own Mom played out a little better (or perhaps at least understand it a little differently) as a result?

  3. As I read your post and saw pictures of your daughter I just kept thinking of this: Happy Birthday to Joan’s Daughter.
    I’m sure a delicious cake is around the corner.

  4. Alisa Barnard says:

    Remember when she was born….my that went by fast! Im watching my boys race by ay a pace that makes me pannicky but proud at the promise of who they are becoming! What a rush!


  1. […] of having kids to steer myself in the opposite direction. And then I bumped into this post about being a girl’s mom, and I want to kick myself in the […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: