Sometimes I look at my daughter and am reminded that one day I will give her away.
This little person, so intricately a part of my being. The one who I have shared everything down to my very molecules with. Who has spent so much of her first years of life physically attached to me in some way, be it my hip, my hand, my hair. We are so much a unit now that when people see me alone, their first question is where my partner in crime could be.
And one day, I will give you away.
I might give you to a marriage mate, someone you will forge your own family with, perhaps under a different name. Maybe you'll become a mother yourself and feel instantly connected and separate from my own journey.
And I will give you over to your own dreams. To the wide world you will undoubtedly conquer in a way only you can. Maybe you'll leave to pursue a job or see a different side of the globe. Maybe it will be to see what you can give back to the world.
Wherever you go, I'll help you pack up your favorite clothes and belongings. I'll be squeezed into one of your bear hugs one more time before we say goodbye. And then I'll send you off, to seek your future wherever that may be.
I think about how I'll give you away, and I imagine it will feel like a physical part of me is separating.
But then I'm reminded: You were never really mine to begin with.
Choosing to become a mother is choosing to be a steward to a separate life, no matter how intertwined they may become. It's saying, "Yes! Give me the frustration and the heartache and the worry...because the benefits are confoundingly worth it."
It's choosing to love someone well enough that, one day, she leaves you successfully.
So I'm doing my best now to show you how to be a capable adult. I work hard at everything I do to show you the way I balance work and family—to show you that "having it all" doesn't always look how we might imagine, but sometimes it's better than we ever dreamed.
I work hard to include you in our faith because of the way it grounds us and offers us hope even when things feel dark—in the hope that you will forge your own solid faith as you grow. I work hard to prioritize my marriage—even when it's hard—to show you that real love is honest and must be cared for to succeed.
I do my best to show you all these things—to teach you how to do them on your own—so you will find your own version of success, even if it means it will take you far away from me.
One day, one day that will undoubtedly come in the blink of an eye, you will do just that. I hope you will do just that. And I hope you will take part of me with you because I've shown you the way.
In fact, I will count it as a success of motherhood when you are able to leave me and find your own path—without my hand to hold. (Though it will always, always be here if you need it.)
Being my daughter's mother is the greatest gift, even though I know it's a gift I must share.
So for now, I try to revel in the times my daughter cries for more cuddles. I try not to feel frustrated when whole days go by where she will only be soothed in my arms. I work to appreciate her need for me now—because I know the day will come when I will miss it from deep within my bones.
But even then, I will know you have everything you need to make your own way. I made sure of it.