A few days ago, my husband and I were out in the backyard enjoying the nice weather. The kids were swimming (despite the fact that the water’s 68 degrees!) and we were sitting near the pool watching them and talking, relishing an all-too-rare moment of conversation without two little pairs of ears listening in.
The kids got out and started to play, and a few minutes later I heard my daughter call from across the yard, “Mooommy! I’m waaatching you!” I turned and saw her smiling and waving at me with one hand and holding a pair of binoculars up to her eyes with the other.
And I realized, that’s a perfect picture of how it is with her right now. At her just-turned-nine–but-starting-to-act-much-older age, it seems like nothing escapes her gaze lately. Her scrutiny. I might’ve been out of ear-shot, but I wasn’t out of view.
Even though she still calls me Mommy and still has such a sweet innocence about her, my daughter seems so impressionable these days, so on-the-cusp of something. And I hope it’s not growing up. Not yet.
It seems like more often than not, I find her in her room listening to music and reading the lyrics on the inside of the CD jacket. She’s started to exchange phone numbers with some of her friends. And she doesn’t want to watch Baby Looney Tunes or Max and Ruby or Dragon Tales anymore.
She borrows my clothes and dresses up. She borrows my brush. She sits and watches me put on makeup.
She’s impressionable. And curious. And tentative.
And she’s watching me.
She sees how I act with my husband. Or with my friends.
She notices what I listen to on the radio. Or what I watch on TV. Or how I dress.
She watches how I treat people. And how I react to how they treat me.
She listens when I pray. And when I don’t.
Oh, the pressure.
And the responsibility.
But, oh… the honor. The amazing privilege of being able to set an example for another precious soul on how to love and how to be loved. On how to give and how to receive. On making wise choices. And how to get back on track when you don’t. On forgiving and asking for forgiveness. On working hard and having fun. On living the best life possible with the time we’re given.
I know I won’t be a perfect role model for my daughter. Far from it. I’ll mess up. Many times, I’m sure. I already have. But that moment in the backyard was a good reminder for me about how important it is to keep trying. Because whether I think she is or not, and whether I want her to or not, she is watching.