But Sometimes: Glimpses of a Passing Girlhood


girlhood: a girl wearing a pink helmet rides her bike on an empty road.My eight-year-old daughter will complete her second-grade school year soon. I find this stage with her bittersweet. It’s delightful to see who she is becoming: what her interests and strengths are, how she interacts with the world around her, and what she loves . . . but I also grieve the end of her girlhood. It’s coming to a close faster than I would like or can try to understand.

Maturity seems to happen faster than when I was a girl. As I type this, my daughter is listening to “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T’s behind a locked bathroom door while she washes her hair. She browsed Amazon for lip glosses tonight. When I was her age, I was playing with My Little Ponies and pretending to be lost in the woods.

I feel as though I can literally see the physical and metaphorical transition from this squishy, energetic toddler to that of a curious girl exploring her world, questioning everything (especially her mama), and finding herself.

She asked me to go for a bike ride tonight after her younger brother and sister went to bed. I wonder how much longer I’ll get that invitation. When we returned from our ride, I was feeling grateful for the sweet glimpses of my daughter’s childhood that pop up unexpectedly. I wrote some down to remind myself of the cherished little girl I had and the beautiful young woman she is becoming . . .

Glimpses of Girlhood

You are grace and fluid motion, confidently in control of your energy, but sometimes when you fall you still call me mama.

You are willowy and strong. Once chubby knees now replaced with the lithe limbs of a runner, but sometimes I still see the cherub in your cheeks.

Your questions are more complex and harder to answer. You ask about the homeless woman at the corner, and why I’m not married to your father, but sometimes you ask me to tell you a story.

You like dance and cheer and soccer and acting class. You set an alarm for 6:30 a.m. to practice tumbles on a mat upstairs before breakfast. You rehearse your monologue incessantly over long road trips. You are serious about your efforts, but tonight you asked to bike on the side of the road with the most puddles.

You wear trendy fanny packs, carry a Stanley cup, and order your Starbucks drink with “extra inclusions.” You asked me to replace the toy box in your room with a vanity, but sometimes I catch you saying “neigh” as you play with your toy horses on top of that chest you no longer want in your room.

You count down the number of days to summer, the number of dollars in your wallet, and lip glosses in your purse, but tonight you counted the number of toads you found after a rainstorm.

You no longer struggle under the weight of your backpack as you walk into school. When you get in the car at pick-up, you talk about crushes and dating and break-ups instead of who got out last in dodgeball. You carry a purse, but sometimes I see you skip into school.

You know more about the Beatles and 90s alternative rock and Willie Nelson than your mama. You listen to songs and artists I don’t know, but sometimes you ask me to listen to the sound of the ocean in a seashell.

You pick out your own clothes. You wash that hip-length golden brown hair of yours all on your own. You shake your head away when I try to brush something off your face. Your pace is most often faster than mine. My view is usually from behind, but sometimes you reach for my hand.

I love you, darling girl, and want to be there for everything. Not just sometimes, but always.

Previous articleRaising Private Ryan: An Ode to D-Day Soldiers
Next article4th of July Events Around Charleston
Elizabeth Crabtree Killen
Elizabeth grew up in the lake country of Minnesota, and she has always loved the water. She was thrilled when her work as a public health researcher and hospital administrator brought her to MUSC in 2012. Charleston has been the setting of all her greatest adventures, the best of which is being a mother to her 7-year-old daughter, Annabeth, then later in life finding love with her husband, Tim. She became a stepmother to his two teenagers, and now she’s also the mother of ‘two under two.' Elizabeth and her family live on Wadmalaw Island where they enjoy being on the water and in a space that accommodates the activities of their large, blended family.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here