Nine years ago I gave birth to a 7 pound, 9 ounce bundle of baby girl.
She was born March 2nd. By March 3rd she had a bow in her hair, a little parcel of pink yarn tied into a bow and stuck to her newborn head with a smidgen of gel.
Her birth ushered in pink-colored visions of tulle and patent-leather Sunday shoes. I clipped teeny tiny barrettes into her fine baby locks and squeezed chubby toddler legs into ruffle-bottomed tights for church.
All along the way I've relished every part of little girldom. Years later I can still recall each outfit, each pair of little shoes, each special occasion...and the hair-bow that commemorated it.
For years we've had an entire bathroom drawer devoted to the housing of bows and ribbons, bows she no longer wears but that I couldn't bear to put away.
About a month ago I realized it had been well over a year since a bow had graced her thick, blonde hair. I knew the time would come when we'd say goodbye to bows but these kinds of transitions are not the sort we celebrate with pomp and circumstance.
I'd put off the task for months, preferring to keep my emotions closed up in a dark place just like the hair-bows. But on a random Thursday evening I finally got up the courage to do the unthinkable and the inevitable:
I boxed up the bows.
Giant tears plopped into the drawer, mingling with the polka-dots on the brightly colored grosgrain ribbon. Clearly, I have a hard time letting go.
I struggle to relinquish her to the passing days and the changes that come as little girls grow into bigger girls. She thinks it's silly that I cry over the loss of each baby tooth and she certainly didn't miss a step when I cleaned out her bow drawer. Rather, she was thrilled to have more space for her growing collection of earrings and nail polish.
She fixes her own hair now. I bite my tongue when I see that her pony-tails are crooked. I watch her admire older girls and try not to notice as she fiddles in the bathroom with new hairstyles that are a bit more modern and grown-up. I suppress a giggle as I count numerous bobby pins and clips she uses to hold her big-girl hairstyles in place.
I wish I'd never begrudged a single moment of hurrying to fix her hair so we wouldn't be late for stuff I can't even remember now. I think of all the times I quickly brushed through her tangles while she said Ouch! and I felt annoyed. I think of the countless moments I twisted rubber bands to secure her braids or clipped a hair-bow in without a second thought, unaware that those days would be gone in a flash.
Saturday was her birthday party. I took her and a couple of her friends roller skating, followed by pizza, cake, crafts, incessant giggling and much nail polish. As she got ready for the big event, she asked, Mommy, can you help me get the tangles out and blow-dry my hair? You're better at it than I am.
I jumped at the chance. And it probably comes as no surprise that I fought back tears as I brushed and dried, brushed and dried, the trivial becoming ceremonial as I fixed my girl's hair...even though there wasn't a hair-bow in sight.