Somehow - and without my permission - Cowgirl went and turned seven on me. Seven. No longer a tubby toddler or dumpling-faced preschooler but a little girl. A little girl with BIG attitude and personality. Sass central resides our house. But I am learning to see all that fire and spit is just her way of establishing independence and laying claim to her space in this world. From day one I declared Cowgirl to be my wild mustang and that is still true at seven. I don't want to break that spirit, I just want to help her learn to channel it in positive and loving ways.
Feeling all sentimental about the seasons moving 'round the carousel of time, I delved into my vast photo archives - not a task for the faint of heart! (Lesson one: use tags! Lesson two: be consistent in titles! Lesson three: Create folders!) As a photographer, it was interesting to see my eye change along with the changes in my girl. I also noticed threads or themes developing as I chronicle our life as a family. And I saw where my attention got deflected and gaps appear. Not to be hard on myself, but gaps in my taking photographs does translate into lapses in my attention as a parent. A useful flag for me to heed.
As I collected these images (but no means all my favorites, but the ones I could find as I haphazardly opened folder upon folder - my images organized only by the date they were taken - hello?! Pure madness!) I was thinking about a recent conversation with a friend considering whether she wants to try to have a baby. I remember well that dilemma: pondering the life I knew and loved versus a life hidden like a prize behind door number two. Do I stick with what I know or take a risk that what lies behind that door is not a goat tied to a stake but something big and shiny and exciting? A vehicle to a wider and wilder world?
And I know families that have been shocked by what was unveiled ... although they still might make that choice knowing what would arise ... but it is a gamble. I cannot know what my life would be without my child but I do know this: my Cowgirl has blasted open my heart which had been pretty wide open beforehand. For me - and I do not want to sound like those people say "you just don't know the scope of your love until you become a parent" although in my case, that is true - being a mother has mentored me in the experience of being vaster than my mind could ever comprehend; loving more deeply and fiercely in a primal, wild animal sort of way; knowing a love that is eternal and unchanging and dare I say, as close as humanly possible to knowing how god or the goddess or Great Spirit loves each of us.
This is the gift my daughter gives to me: inspiring me to dig in deep and nourish all that is within me because to do so makes me a better parent and a better person. Her trust and confidence in me has healed wounds and doubts self-inflicted; her belief in me has helped me realign with my understanding that we are all love folding back in upon itself and flowing outward in communion with the world.
And she keeps me moving, growing, expanding, learning and never, never lets me rest in what is easy. Did I mention the wild mustang and the need for sharp, constant awareness and presence?