To my dearest Pascaline,
I’ve been writing this in my head since we were in Thailand, trying to figure out how to articulate all that I’m feeling with you turning ten. When your dad first asked me to think about going back to Thailand, he shared how there was something special waiting for us there. I assumed it was making new memories after the Dengue fever from last year. But it was the second night of our trip when I realized why we’d come. Do you remember that night?
We were walking back from dinner, and you and dad had a miscommunication over something. You walked ahead, feeling hurt and misunderstood. Dad and I talked, and he went after you. I watched the two of you sort it out. Your words were full of passion and emotion as you expressed your side of the story.
Your poor dad, he stood there a bit speechless.
Did he ever expect his little girl to be so articulate? I could tell he was in love with you and overwhelmed by you at the same moment. And I tried to imagine being ten and having such real conversations with my dad. I was ten when the abuse started with my dad. It would be another twenty years before me and Papa would have heart to heart conversations that would heal us. But here you are…full of confidence and passion.
We’d come for the uninterrupted time to listen to you
With no where to rush too, we all stood in the middle of the night’s trail with fireflies dancing around us and worked it out as a family. I knew why we’d come to Thailand. We’d come for the uninterrupted time to listen to you as you go through this incredible transition of girlhood to womanhood. To let you know we not only want to be here but we also want to hear…you.
Something has happened.
Turning ten has changed everything.
And it brings tears to my eyes as my fingers race at trying to type it all–process it all. Our baby girl is stepping into womanhood. Turning ten years old is proving to be a big change for all of us. As you remind me, you are not only ten but a decade. You’ve got so many feelings and shifts happening inside of you, and I can tell that sometimes you feel lost and a bit alone. Your venturing into a new world, with the world of being a little girl behind you.
Sometimes I watch you straddle both worlds, unsure of where you fit most; one foot in adolescence and the other foot in innocence. And I understand the angst in your dad’s belly when he tries to hold on to you.
I felt the angst in my own tummy when I first tried to photograph you in Thailand this year. You’re turning ten and things have changed. I approached you with the camera the way I always do. But I couldn’t help but notice there wasn’t a skip in your step. Instead, there was a sway in your hip. Whether you are walking on the beach with a turtle named Shway
…there wasn’t a skip in your step. Instead, there was a sway in your hip.
or walking back to our jungle home
your very movements have transformed.
Sometimes you look at me with such honest intensity. I can feel your heart churning, trying to sort thing outs.
You like to remind me of all the ways we are different.
I love to paint my toes pink, but you love black or blue finger nail polish. I love to wear sparkly headbands and romantic, flowy blouses. You love your camouflaged yoga tank top. All these pieces are part of turning ten. Do you know how much I love the way you express yourself, whether you are wearing camouflage, reading favorite books late at night, enticing us with another story or sharing your strong opinions.
You are braver than I ever was at ten years old.
You have more passion than I know how to respond too. And you listen to me talk with your dad about empowering women to go after their impossibles, and I shouldn’t be surprised that you’ve been taking notes. I just wasn’t prepared for how nervous I’d feel when you started climbing your impossibles.
Up until this year, I’ve always been able to keep up with you (somewhat). Whether we were rock climbing, hiking, or swimming. But this year, you looked at the old tree in the middle of the jungle lake, and you dove right in. This year, I knew it wasn’t about keeping company with you, it was about cheering you on.
You are a gift Pascaline. You are stunning. As I watch this new season of turning ten begin to unfold, I am overwhelmed with how beautiful, mysterious and passionate you are. I love that you still need your mama, in some ways more than ever. I love to turn around from my morning yoga and find you behind me.
When I was in my twenties, I believed a lie.
I thought I was too broken to ever raise a daughter. I remember the day I closed the door on that lie. It was the ultrasound appointment when we’d find out whether we were having a boy or a girl. Grammie, Papa, Gigia Ma, Gigi Pa, Dad–we were all there together when the doctor said “It’s a girl!” When the doctor said we were having a girl, I cried. I knew in that moment that despite my fears, insecurities, brokenness, God had a plan for you…and me. And God believed that I was the best mama for you. I prayed God would show me how to be worthy of such a responsibility.
Pascaline, I wanted you to have everything I didn’t know until much later. I wanted you to know you were loved unconditionally, beautiful, smart, and able to do whatever you desired. I envisioned myself someday standing up tall to the responsibility of being your mom. In my vision, I pick you up and put you on my shoulders. And you can see farther than I will ever see. I smile as I hear you tell me all about your vision.
You have given me the opportunity to be a mama–to venture into an unknown land that I didn’t feel worthy of–bringing with me all kinds of fears and insecurities. Little by little, year after year, I’ve learned more and more about how to love you and listen to you. I LOVE being your mama and can’t imagine life any other way. Pascaline, you bring me more joy than I can ever express through words.
When you reached for my hand on the subway in Bangkok, you took me by surprise and held my hand tight, oh, how I relished that moment with you. I know you don’t need me holding your hand all the time, especially with turning ten. I know you’ve got a lot to figure out for yourself. You’ve got to make your own discoveries and walk your own path. But any time you need a hand to hold to, I’m here. If you ever wonder if anyone is cheering you on, I hope you hear me and dad.
Oh, I wasn’t prepared to see you climb so high already.
A wise woman once said that motherhood is a constant journey of grieving and celebrating the transformations our children go through. I know you feel me and dad grieving a bit when we try to hang on to you too much. But I hope you also hear us celebrating too. Celebrating you turning ten.
My sweet, strong Pascaline, I love you.
p.s. If you enjoyed this post, fast forward a few years when Blaze turned ten.