It starts with birth. The awareness of our own unique helplessness is overwhelming. We are a slave to our children's genetics, environment, and wholly uncontrollable luck. We skitter to command a million details to defray the constant anxiety of that which can't be governed. We worry, lose sleep, and panic till the day we feebly shrug our shoulders and accept. Then we defer to faith. Because faith is air, and we must breathe.
As my daughter has grown, that faith has transferred from the intangible nebulous, to the burgeoning humanoid sprouting at my feet. A far more comfortable leap, a sense of control sets in. As parents, we can lead by example, teach, shape, and mold. Destiny has temporarily released her grasp. My daughter can learn not to climb on the hot stove, to look both ways before crossing, to stop, drop, and roll.
So you would think it is the consequential stuff that I struggle with, but often the ephemera nips just as gratingly at my heels.
A few weeks ago, my daughter informed us that she wanted to perform in the annual school talent show. Each year, we battle to convince her to play the violin, something she actually holds a sprinkling of talent for. Sometimes we win, others we lose.
This year she decided that she would perform a solo dance routine, and no matter how much I tried, she could not be dissuaded. My anxiety rose as I pondered our weekend dance performances in the family room. Rhythm, it turns out, may not be at the top of my daughter's otherwise many talents.
Much discussion was had, videos were You Tubed, lists were made. And two days before the performance, it was clear that her best option was to free style the whole routine. My heart raced as I pondered her up on that stage in front of hundreds of people, awkward, and embarrassed. This has been a hard year for her at school, and the last thing I wanted was for it to end in shame.
My daughter, however, was implacable. She repeated over and over again:
I got this!
The day of the event, she pushed us out of the way and applied her own makeup. I marveled at the mix of eye liner and lipstick (something we otherwise would never let our daughter wear). She looked fierce.
When she took the stage at the tail end of the show after fifty other acts, I stood nervously with camera in hand. She awaited patiently through three attempts to queue her music correctly. I could no longer control the fluttering in my chest.
I keenly felt at that moment something, in retrospect, I have always known.
That I will follow this girl with all my heart down whichever path she leads. And I will have faith even though the journey will often be awkward and painful and sometimes...
Sometimes joyful and wondrous.