I know she cries a lot without me. Please be patient with her. She’s used to being held close. After a week of crying about my diagnosis a year ago, I picked her up and I’m not sure I ever put her back down. How could I? With her ready smile, her dancing eyes, her hair that curls around my fingers. At once: her daddy, her momma and something completely new. We picnicked, we sang, we danced, and we painted. We went for walks, we baked cookies, and chalked an entire sidewalk. We planted gardens and chased bubbles. We stayed up late together to watch movies and lay in tents reading books. Because I didn’t know how much time we had. Because I still don’t.
Because really no one does.
I know I set the bar high, I meant to. I know she misses me when she’s with you, and trust my soul aches for her. I worry about her feelings. I worry she feels lost. I worry that she holds your leg during the playground. I worry that she wants to sit in your lap at lunch. I worry because I love her. I worry because she is mine.
But I’m not sorry my daughter is well-loved. I’m not sorry she looks to adults for guidance and safety. It means I’m doing my job.
I’m also not sorry I told her about you.
I told my daughter you would help her. I told my daughter you would be kind. I told my daughter her teacher would show her how to count. I told her you would help her to write her name. I told her you would read her books and sing her songs she doesn’t know. I told her you would keep her safe while we’re apart.
I told her all these things, and after just a moment’s pause, she told me she would love you.
I wanted you to know that, because deep down I know that, too. I’ve seen it happen in my own classroom. As the desks fill this year with children so much older than mine, I’ll remember they are yours. I’ll remember that they are scared and just better at hiding it now. I’ll remember that they are nervous about new routines and I’ll be patient with their questions. I’ll remember that a good night’s sleep and food on the table are luxuries to some, and I’ll be reminded that the last student left in class is lingering because maybe they need to talk. I’ll be reminded that if I do my job well, they will love me. I’ll be reminded, each day when they enter, that I love them, too.
That’s the tragedy mothers and teachers share, isn’t it? Our children, our students, they accept the love they think they deserve. But they’ll love us more than we could’ve ever earned.
Take care of my girl. Be patient and be kind. Show her the world in a new light. In a light only you can shine, and I promise to do the same.
Because she is mine and they are yours, but for a time they will be ours. The responsibility is great. But it should be, because so are they.
So are they.
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The Memory Keep Series by Liza Dora
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