Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Girl

My girl turns 12 today, and I couldn’t help but feel a little bit mushy.

Time flies, and how fast indeed! Twelve years ago, she was just a tiny fragile infant that I carefully held in the palm of my hands. The first time I held her – I was overwhelmed by a deep sense of joy I almost wept.

She was such a well-behaved baby. She didn’t make much fuss even with wet diapers or hunger bouts. She knew how to entertain herself, cooing and laughing when no one was around, as if talking to invisible angels. She’d only given me very few sleepless nights which are nothing really compared to the joy when she smiled sheepishly at me, snuggled close to my breast to take her milk, and cooed and squeaked no end in the middle of the night.

At two, she had an immense vocabulary, she spoke straight tagalog and English, she recognized the letters of the alphabet and mimicked the sounds of animals. More than anything else in the world, she was fascinated by books with colorful drawings and illustrations. She was also such a fan of “The Land Before Time” video series to the point of memorizing practically all the songs in the collection.

Coming home from the office one day, I was greeted by an awesome sight - a three-year- old walking around the house in an oversized- high-heeled shoes that belonged to her mom, with kitchen spoon in one hand and my office bag in another. At this young age, she was fast showing signs of fierce independence, allowing no one to spoonfeed her, or to bathe her or to dress her up. She wanted to do all things by herself. I kidded myself – she is indeed her mother’s girl!

When her little sister came into the scene, the bouts of jealousy or selfishness that we predicted never surfaced. Instead, she surprised us with the kind of genuine concern and caring that she showed her sister. When the little baby was crying, she would race with her dad to find out what the fuss is. At night, she would send her sister to sleep with a wonderful rendition of the songs from the “Land Before Time”, culminating in the infamous “If we hold on” that had become the family’s unofficial theme song to this day. I didn’t have to teach her to take care of her sister. It came naturally to her. Even today, she is her sister’s best friend.

I could go on and on recalling the wonderful surprises, the endless joys and the precious bonding moments that she had delighted us with. Today, as I look at her and marvel at how she has perpendicularly grown up over the years, I am awed at the realization that my baby has now become my girl. In a few years, I know that my girl will soon transform into her own person. Already, I could spot the signs of its coming.

As a pre-teener, she had been pretty consistent in her ways: non-fussy, self-initiated, caring and responsible. But I have also seen that although I have raised her in a certain “mold”, she is slowly escaping that mold. She is starting to assert her independence in everything she does. It is fascinating to see her unspoken determination to be her own person – free from the dictates and pressures of others, even from her mom who used to be the center of her world. It’s not her style to wear the fad just because it’s the “in” thing or everybody else is doing it if she thinks it looks silly. She has very different interests compared to girls of her age. While others talk about Hannah Montana and acne and crushes, she would rather read books about astronomy and science.

But she still continues to sing. And how she loves to sing. She’s also into a lot of musical instruments – piano, clarinet, guitar, violin. On her birthday, she requested for an electric guitar to replace her acoustic guitar. She’s currently saving her weekly allowance so she can buy drums this summer. She’s a member of her school band and music choir and is the guitarist in our local church. Music is her greatest passion, if not her life. Why – she wants to become a music director or music teacher as an adult.

She also excels academically. She is on top of her class and is a very strong candidate for the dean’s honour by the end of the term, as her teachers told me during our parent-teacher session last week.

What all these means to me is that I am raising a girl with extra-ordinary potential and passions. A girl who at a young age already knows what she wants in life.

I have read somewhere that raising a kid is like flying a kite. At the initial stage of flying, the kite owner must maintain a tight grip as the kite struggles up high. Upon establishing the momentum, the owner must help the kite maintain its balance. And as soon as the kite becomes stable, the owner must learn to let go, albeit gradually, and be contented to watch the kite in its full flying splendor from afar, but vigilant to come to the rescue in case of brewing storm.

At this stage of my girl’s life, I know that I have to correspondingly evolve from the overprotective and imposing mother that I used to be into a supportive, nurturing, and empowering mom that is exactly what she needs as she spreads up her wings. This, to me, is the greatest gift I could ever give her.


cherie said...

i have to congratulate you for a job well done. she's an amazing daughter.

Mel said...

thanks cherie. I always try my best to be a good mother, but i also realize that it is only by the grace of God that our children can become the best that they could ever be.