Early in the morning, my thoughts remind me: I'm not cut out for this. Elastics fall into the sink, you reach for them, and hand them to the woman Who Woke You. "I know it's early, sweetie," I say, with one eye on the clock. Mornings are hard enough, impatient hands don't help, and I force my body to match your pace for a moment; you, who have a hard time waking up, who took fifteen minutes to put on pants, four minutes to put on socks, and eight minutes to pick a sweater. After awhile the clock shows new numbers. I don't want to be late, and I want you to be on time, so I ask your feet to move a little faster. They move a little faster.
It's been a hard few days for you and I. These challenging ones are what I've come to call my "Vow Days." I vow to be up early and ready first in the morning, so you can have all of my attention when you get out of bed; whether or not I've had coffee or time to think. I vow to give up my much-to-do list so we can play. I promise I will keep my buttons on full display, even though your current need is to push them. And I'll bury it when you tell me you wish I did this-or-that more like your mommy.
I'll learn you, and we'll learn this thing we have; this thing that's not quite mother-daughter, not quite peer or friend. I'm an authority who's job it is to come alongside...but I'm still figuring out who you are; I don't know how this works, or when it won't. We don't have blood ties, but I love you like we do, and you say that sometimes, too, so I tell myself we don't need blood to be a family.
I'm not cut out for the hard days, but I take them anyway, with gratitude. I know what they produce and who they're for (you). You deserve someone who'll figure out this step-thing.