Angel Wings and Heartache

Last night Lucia and and I had a "sleepover." Nancy's out of town and Lucia slept in bed with me.  The "sleepover" is a long tradition that usually involves going out to dinner and having some kind of treat. At the end, she always gets to sleep in my bed. Last night we ate shaved chow mien at Shanghai Garden, watched Pirates of the Caribbean on my laptopshared a $100,000 Bar and stayed up till 10:30pm. This morning the birds woke me up at the crack and I carefully peeled Lucia's long clammy leg off of mine to get up without waking her. Lucia is only 10, but, as Nancy's Southern mom Gloria says, "she's a tall drink of water"--all arms and legs.  This morning when I stood above Lucia and saw her shoulder blades, "angel's wings," I've heard them called, I was hit with a combination of utter adoration, sheer love, and heartache. When did her chubby little arms became long, bony shoulders?

I've been struggling lately with getting older myself. I've had injuries I didn't used to have. I have far more responsibility than I ever believed I would take on. I find myself navigating emotional and relationship issues in a much different way than I did in my younger years. It feels like a continuous letting go and moving on.

But watching my child so early in her own growing up process, moving at what seems to me, breakneck speed, invokes feelings of seasickness mixed with being just a little bit stoned. I can see myself in her. I had the same gangly body, big feet, straight hair, and love of books. I can see myself in 4th grade, hanging on to the last vestiges of childhood.

I just gave Lucia permission to read The Hunger Games. She's been persistently begging for over six months. I finally conceded, with the caveat that I read it first. What an amazing story. The main character, Katniss, a capable, competent, fierce sixteen-year-old, is a fitting role model for a 10-year-old girl (even though she does have to kill a lot people). I'm grateful Lucia wants to read that and not Teen Vogue.

This morning as I looked at Lucia's angel wings, I felt gratified that she still wants to have sleepovers with me. And I felt sad that soon she would enter a time (like all girls do) when she will be self-conscious of her long arms, when she won't seek my permission to read certain books. I tell myself every day that, though we have similarities, Lucia is not me. Maybe she'll be like Katniss, much fiercer, more focused, and fascinating than I ever was. I don't know. I can't know.

It's another letting go for me, a big one. For now, I can appreciate Lucia's little angel wings, the space between child and other, where she currently exists. I can focus on the delight we share in talking about Katniss' adventures, having sleepovers, and eating candy together. I sometimes ask Lucia if she worries at all. About getting older? About things changing? These days, she says no. I guess that means she's still a kid. For now.

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