A little over a month ago, you woke up and dressed for picture day at school. You wore the navy blue dress that I picked out with white tights and brown maryjane shoes. I chose the outfit because it was plain and understated, thinking that you would be the star of the picture. I also chose it because the outfit was age appropriate. It was a navy blue dress for a six year old… and you are six.
We took the time to fix your hair and you curls were looking perfect that morning. You left the house looking like my sweet little baby girl with gorgeous golden curls. Your gaped toothed grin and awkward stance as we waited for your bus proved your little girl look. You had a sense of innocence and cuteness that would be expected for a six year old girl.
That day came and went and I couldn’t wait to see what your pictures turned out like. I had to order them ahead of time without seeing the final result so I was nervous. Not that you would look bad, but that maybe you wouldn’t be smiling or that you just would have the look on your face that said you didn’t want your picture taken at all. That was the look that was present on previous photos so it wasn’t that I was worrying needlessly.
At any rate your pictures came back finally, and I have to say how upset I am over them. I was certain that the little girl that I sent off to school that morning was you. I was certain that the little girl that I sent off was cute with her little curls. She was sweet with her innocent and gaped tooth grin. That little girl that I sent off to get her picture taken was not the same girl from this photo.
The photo that I received is certainly some other girl and most definitely not a little one. The pictures that came home with you were of a girl far more mature looking. Maybe a ten or twelve year old. The girl that was in those pictures was not my little baby bear. Clearly there has been a switch!
I stare at the pictures and I think about the very first time I looked at you. I think about the moment that I held you in my arms and looked into your huge sparkling eyes. As I looked at the picture I remembered you falling asleep on my chest as an infant. I remembered your bobble head as you sat up for the first few times. I remember your tiny little body sitting in a huge highchair that could have swallowed you up, for the first time that you ate food.
I kept looking at that school picture and I kept recalling all the moments of your life that have led up to now. This much older looking girl is not you. It can’t be. I’m sure it is not. A switch must have happened. This girl is quite beautiful and poised and there is a sparkle in her eye, but she is just much too old to be you, my baby girl.
The more I stare at the printed 8×10, the more I can’t believe how much you have grown up. I can see you standing in front of your preschool for you very first day. I can see you at home playing with barbies and build a bears and I wonder how you could have grown up so much.
This picture is you. This picture is a preview to the pictures that I have to come for the next eleven years and I am not so sure that I am ready. No doubt that the girl in this picture is gorgeous, but she is just so grown up. She has a magical sort of look about her that I just hadn’t noticed when I sent you off that morning.
This picture is beautiful. I can see your sparkling eyes now. I can see your golden curls. I can see your grin, only nothing about what I see now is the same as what I saw when I sent you off. I’d say that since I have come to realize that this picture is in fact you, I have looked at you a bit differently in general. You are growing up. You just don’t look like my baby bear any more.
I know that you are still my baby. I realize that you are still my little girl, but lately I am not taking for granted the joys of you being six. You asked me the other day if you could lay down with me and take a nap. I said yes and I cherished every minute. I waited until you fell asleep before I would shut my eyes. I watched as your eye lids closed and then I stared at you a little bit longer.
How many more naps will I have with you? How many more times will you even ask? You are growing so darn quick and before I blink, I will have another school picture to shock me. I love you so much that it hurts sometimes. Watching you grow up is painful. It is rewarding and wonderful but so painful. Someday when you have your own babies, you will know just what I mean. Until then, I am just going to keep enjoying our moments together and I am going try and enjoy watching you grow up right before my eyes.