Monday, February 28, 2011

She is ready but I am not...

"Mommy, I'm ready to have my ears pierced.  Really, I am," Bella shouts to me from where she sits in the back of our mini-van.

I glance at her reflection in the rear-view mirror.  My heart feels heavy as I note how much taller she suddenly seems in her booster seat.  I no longer have to adjust the mirror to see her anymore when she speaks to me.

"Did you hear me, Mommy?" she asks, coercing me out of the past and thrusting me into the present.

I reply, "Yes, I heard you.  You want your ears pierced."  The tone in my voice is composed, yet at the same time, bordering upon melancholy.

A friend of mine had brought her young daughter to the gym that morning and proudly displayed her daughter's newly pierced ears.  Almost immediately, Bella inquired about getting her own ears pierced.

My initial response had been one of excitement, as I imagined us wearing matching earrings...an act which would demonstrate our tight mother-daughter bond.  She had talked many times about getting her ears pierced but when it came down to it, she would always decide that she wasn't ready.

However, now, with the staunch realization that this time she is undoubtedly going to follow through, I can't help but feel a little wave of sadness at the very thought of this milestone.

The responsibility and desire I feel to make this experience a positive one for her weighs heavily on my mind.  This important memory will stay with her forever...it is something she will never forget.

With a deep sigh, I state, "Okay, we'll run a couple errands and then we'll stop by the mall to get your ears pierced."

She smiles brightly while peering out the window, her eyes sparkling with radiance as the sun's golden rays light up her face.  Even though I've always thought she was gorgeous, for some reason, her beauty takes my breath away, today, as I steal another glimpse of my only daughter.

Her promises for a lifetime of love and friendship run tireless circles around the inside of my head..."Mommy, you'll always be my best friend and I'll always be your baby girl".

Finally, after finishing our errands, we arrive at the mall and enter the store, with her skipping delightfully ahead of me as I stagger behind, willing time to slow down.

She is ready but I am not.

She eyes the tall chair in front of her, a cloud of hesitancy veils the smile that was on her face merely seconds before. For a brief minute, I'm consumed with relief...maybe she's not ready, after all.

I witness her uncertainty vanish as quickly as it had appeared when she pulls herself up into the chair. Just an hour prior to this, she had looked so big in her booster seat and now she seems so small in the large chair that envelops her.

With the innocence of a young child, she criss-crosses her legs and swings them nervously beneath her, hands clasped tightly together.

The manager comes over and explains the process.  She hands Bella a frame which shows the various earrings she can choose from.  It doesn't take her long to point to the sparkly pink flower earrings.

"These, Mommy," she whispers softly.  "These are the ones I want, okay?  Do you like them?"

I nod my head and smile, giving my approval of her choice in earrings.  Of course, she wants the ones which scream BLING in every way possible.  That's my girl...extroverted, gregarious and flashy, all wrapped into one.  Everything I was not, at her age.  I can't help but feel a tinge of envy, only wishing I had had an ounce of her confidence when I was 6.

The manager interrupts my thoughts, "Ma'am, I'm going to have my assistant manager do her right ear while I do her left ear so we can just get it over with all at once.  It's so much easier than doing them one at a time."

I agree, knowing Bella has a low tolerance for pain and would prefer to get it done in one swift move.

With a purple pen, the manager marks dots on each of Bella's ears.

"Okay," the manager says. "We're going to line the earrings up with the marks on your ears and then on the count of 3, we're going to put them in.  Are you ready?"

Bella cautiously nods her head ever so slightly, signaling that she is ready.  Her delicate hand reaches out for mine and squeezes it tightly.  I find solace in her touch..it's proof that she still needs me, even though she's growing up right before my very eyes.

"1, 2, 3....," the manager counts out loud.  Bella sits frozen in the chair, her eyes wide open with fear. I grip her hand tighter, hoping that the feel of my skin against hers will ease her anxiety.

I hear a quick popping sound and then both the manager and her assistant step away from my daughter to get a good look at her newly pierced ears.

Instinct warns me to stuff my emotions down deep inside where they can never be revealed and to put a smile on my face.  "That wasn't so bad, was it?  And now it's over...your ears are pierced!  Do you want to see?" I ask, reaching for a mirror.

But to my surprise, instead of grabbing for the mirror being handed to her, Bella's eyes fill with tears.  Her sniffles quickly dissolve into a breakdown of heavy sobs.

I stretch out my arms toward her and she gently falls into them.

"What's wrong?" I ask.  "Did it hurt worse than you had imagined?"

Through muffled cries, I hear her respond, "Uh-huh".

"Oh, I know.  It's one of those things that you can never fully prepare yourself for...the pain, the suddenness of it all.  And now that it's done, it's done," I whisper softly into her ear.

Continuing, I explain, "But if you find that you don't like having your ears pierced, you can always go back to the way it was before.  The holes will close up eventually and there will be no more reminders".

She takes a deep breath yet I can still feel her trembling against me.  I embrace her securely against my chest, as she purges the startling emotions which have caught the both of us off guard.

When her body finally begins to relax, I pull away slightly and lift her chin up with my hand.

"It's going to be okay, you know.  This was a big step for you.  You're still beautiful, whether your ears are pierced or not," I remind her.

She raises her head higher and very quietly asks, "Can I see what they look like?"

I hand her the mirror and my heart melts as a smile washes over her tear-stained face.  She looks at her left ear, then her right...and then back at me.

With glee in her voice, she says, "Mommy, they're so pretty!  I love them!"  I nod my head in agreement while biting my lip in a weak attempt to stop my chin from quivering.

Suddenly, I can envision us 20 years in the future.  We are in the dressing room of the church where she's about to marry the man of her dreams.  I've just given her the gift of "something old", the earrings I wore at my own wedding....the day I married her father.

We are both swept up in the bitterness of the moment...the joy and happiness, along with the poignancy and disbelief that her childhood has gone by so quickly.  It is time to let go, as she begins a new life separate from mine.

She is ready but I am not.

As she captures another look at herself in the mirror, all grown up in her lovely wedding gown, I imagine my daughter's eyes glistening with tears when she asks, "Mom, do you remember when you took me to get my ears pierced when I was 6...?"

My heart melts.  Yet again.

One last time, I glance at her reflection in the mirror and answer, "How could I ever forget?"




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48 comments:

Zookeeper Jess said...

Geez Helene, way to make me cry!! I'm especially sentimental to this post because Ashlyn turns 5 in September and we always said we'd let our girls decide about getting their ears pierced when they were 5. She's been asking about it and I think shes going to do it for her birthday. Definitely sentimental and bittersweet.

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

Helene...you seriously made me cry this morning!!! What a beautifully written post...and a beautiful baby girl, of course! :)

Hang in there, Mama!

SMS said...

Oh my gosh Helene... as if being pregnant didn't get my emotions all bunched up on a regular basis.. I am sitting here with tears streaming down my cheeks. I almost cried just painting Margot's toe nails for the first time this week.. how will I handle this step? So beautifully written mama. She looks beautiful and precious and oh so happy.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Beautiful post. She looks great! I very clearly remember getting my ears pierced when I was 7. What a rite of passage it is :-)

singedwingangel said...

OH man that one is one reason I am glad I don't have a girl. I would have been a basket case. But my son got his ear pierced when he was 16 by a friend..with a needle..I was like seriously:?

Machelle said...

Ok seriously?! I have to go to work here soon and here I am sobbing like a baby!!

Cindy said...

Beautifully written. You captured the moment perfectly, and what a bitter-sweet moment it is. I have these moments with my daughters, where I see them in the future, and it takes everything in my power to quiet the voice inside me screaming "Slow Down!"
Bella looks beautiful.

Samantha said...

This made me sad...I know how you feel. I've just had to move from shopping in the toddler section to a the little girls section and B picks out her own clothes now. It is sad...

My Mom always waited on me to ask to get my ears pierced, but I never did...hopefully Bree won't either. I'm 23 years old and still don't have mine pierced.

Mama Jules said...

Her bling only adds to her beauty!

I was so excited when my daughter finally decided to get her ears pierced, but I was also so full of emotion. I don't think we're ever ready for them to grow up.

Henley on the Horn said...

It's hard to believe when they start to grow up so much!I loved this tender story!

Jen said...

It all goes by just so fast. I know Claire is only 3 but I was talking to her about getting her ears pierced and that is when she told me that she is no longer my princess. She is going to be a baller, a soccer baller instead.

Slightly Askew Studios said...

Very good writing. It brought me right back to how I felt when my own girls were at that age. My youngest is 16 now and I long for the days when she thought I was wonderful. Thankfully I know that this too will pass. Enjoy every minute of this sweet age. Shannon

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

This brought back multi memories for me in so many ways. Having two girls, I went through it twice BUT the first one was 3 days old so the crying was stopped by a binky. The next was 3 weeks old and once more, the binky was popped in. Yet, there's that rite of passage that takes place as the click of the ear piercer sounds out. It screams, "She's not a baby anymore!" She is adorable with her bling in her ears. Not only that, you were there to share it with and not that she did it when she was 12 in some girl's bedroom with a needle. :)

Twins Squared said...

Wow Helene! I think this is one of the most BEAUTIFUL posts you have ever written! I think Bella looks beautiful too. I'm glad she is happy.

Sometimes I think you are lucky to only have one girl. Don't get me wrong - I love having girls and I love all of mine immensely, but I am the only daughter and we have a lot of only daughters in our family. I see how special the relationship is that we each have with our mothers. What I will have with mine I think will be very different. And I think when they are older my girls will all lean on each other more than they will me, and I will be spread thinner, not able to be there for them the way a mom should because I will have to spread myself out among them. Not that boys won't need you too, but you know what I'm saying?

Anyway, my point is, I think you and Bella will forever have a wonderful bond because she is your only girl - a relationship to treasure!

Aimee said...

Too sweet Helene! Love it.

I left you a little something something on my blog...:)

Eva Gallant said...

Awwww....that was precious!

Ashley said...

AWwwwwwwww, you are too adorable, the pair of you!

Bella's new earrings look fantastic, tell her way to go!

The Professional Family Manager said...

This is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful things I've ever read. What more can I say except pass the kleenex...

purseblogger said...

My daughter chose those earrings too when she got her ears pierced. They are very pretty.
I hear you on not being ready. It's hard to see our girls grow up. xoxo

HoneyDame said...

Awwww..that was sooo emotional!...She does look pretty with the earrings too

Crossed Fingers said...

Aw what a beautiful & well written story. I love it!

Shell said...

You have me crying! They grow up so fast...

Colleen said...

I'm flooded right now with memories of my own ear piercing and anticipation and anxiety of the day I will experience this with my own daughter, who has already been told she has to be 7, at least. I don't think I could handle it anytime before that.

Semi-Slacker Mom said...

Thanks for making me cry, Helene! Yay Bella. I'm loving your BLING!

MiMi said...

Oh geez!! What a sweet story!
I remember having mine pierced when I was about her age...I don't remember the pain though. Thank GOODNESS!

Alicia said...

Great...now I'm crying!!!

Nobodys Nothings said...

how precious! that's such a big thing for a little girl. :) congrats to you, mom, for holding it together for her. :) they grow up too fast, don't they?

Missy said...

Well written. The girls got their ears pierced in August and that is exactly how I felt. Wow, they are growing up so fast.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

Ah, so sweet! A milestone for sure. You have a brave, confident, beautiful girl.

Krystal said...

Wow, well written, you had me in tears!

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

Oh! Make me sob! That was sad, eloquent, beautiful...

MamaHen Em said...

It's such a big moment, isn't it? Even though it feels like it shouldn't be. Kinda made me teary because my girlie just got hers done last year and it was so many of the same emotions. You have a very sweet, lovely daughter :)

ashley said...

Geez Helene, thanks for making me get teary while my husband stares at me with that "what the heck is wrong with her" look! (I'm getting used to the look, because he thinks my running is nuts and I don't care. I'll finish my race even if I have to crawl! Um, anyways...) Beautifully written! Bella was such a brave girl and you captured the emotions of being a great mom so well.

Rebecca said...

I won't be ready for someone to mark on my daughter with a purple pen much less put a hole in her body!!! Yikes! Thanks for letting me know what I'm in for...I had completely forgotten about this mother/daughter ritual!

Nezzy said...

OOOooh sweetie, what a Mother Daughter memory you just made. Miss Bella will make a beautiful bride someday!

I remember these feelings!

God bless and have a fantastic day!

Giveaway...my place! :o)

Dysfunctional Mom said...

Oh, why did you have to go THERE? All the way to the wedding? Now I'm crying and ruining the makeup that I just applied.
Seriously....this was so beautiful, every word from beginning to end. I love it.

Sadia said...

You know those moments when you look at your child and catch a glimpse of what she'll (or he'll) look like when they're grown? This post gave me the same little jolt.

Cheryl Lage said...

Okay Helene, I am absolutely boo-hooing...and basking in your beautiful Mommy/daughter post.

Such a memorable, memorable day---and you've immortalized it so poignantly.

Perfection and pierced ears. :)

Karen Peterson said...

I think out of everything you've ever written, this post is my favorite.

Beautiful.

I just wish there was a way to stopper childhood and hold onto it a little longer.

Tina Michelle said...

aw, so sweet and so well written.

The Mother said...

Beautifully said.

With only boys, I managed to put this off til the teen years, and even then only had to do it with one (who now has quite a few holes in his head, beyond the ones he was born with).

Monkeys Mommy ♥ said...

Beautifully written...made me cry!

Jennifer said...

Ok....thanks for adding to an even more emotional day! LOL! But seriously -- what an awesome post!

Love Bella's BLING!

Jenny said...

Ok, I'm not one to cry, but I am! I guess because my daughter is also 6 and we've been talking about ear piercing as well.

She used to want nothing to do with it, but recently she says she wants them done. She quickly changes her mind, but I know it won't always be that way.

I remember getting mine done in 3rd grade, on my birthday. It was December and COLD out. Advice: Don't do it then. When the cold hits your ears it hurts so bad!

Amy W said...

I was doing just fine until you started picturing the wedding day. Good grief!! You're killing me here! My older daughter just got her ears pierced last year, and my younger daughter doesn't want to have anything to do with it. She saw how much it hurt her sister! :) Not that I mind much.

Kim said...

I JUST went through this very same scenario with my daughter (although she got her ears pierced for her 13th birthday, so she managed not to cry . . . can't say the same for me).

idiosyncraticeye said...

Aw, bless. It was the other way round in my case, my mother was ready, I was not. I was fifteen!!!! ;)

Victoria KP said...

Stopping by from "Write on Edge"... what a gorgeous post!

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr



 
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