My dear, sweet girl,
It started with the shoes, though I shouldn’t have been surprised when you wanted to bring them home. You’ve always loved fancy things – pretty things – things you see as being sophisticated and “lovely,” so your cousins’ hand-me-down high-heeled Sunday shoes fit the bill nicely. You loved them. We agreed to let you bring them home under the agreement that they were to be worn at home. Only at home.
You were happy with that agreement then, but now you’re not so sure. Your ankles are starting to become accustomed to the weebly-wobbly walking, and you don’t understand why we won’t let you wear them to the store…to Grandma’s house…to church and anywhere else your heart desires.
But baby girl, while your ankles might be getting stronger and ready for those shoes, I know something you don’t.
Your heart is not yet strong enough.
Your spirit is not yet ready.
Because those shoes, honey, aren’t just shoes. They’re a symbol. They’re a symbol to you of something older and more grown up than you are. They’re a symbol to you of a time you’re longing for but that is still far off. And to me, they’re a symbol of what this world wants to do to you.
This world we live in…well, it’s never going to be completely happy with you just as you are. To the eyes of the world, you could always be more than you already are. Older. Taller. Prettier. Smarter. More popular or more successful or more wealthy. More and better and higher than you are today.
And those shoes, baby, are just part of that.
You are a little girl, and I am determined to help you stay a little girl as long as you can. That’s not just because my heart isn’t ready to see you grow up and leave the nest; it’s that I know your heart has a lot of growing to do before it’s ready to take on the grown-up things of life. And high-heeled shoes in size 12 are a little too grown-up for your little size 12 feet. And those long, sparkly dangly clip-on earrings from my grandmother’s costume jewelry collection? The ones you love so much? They’re just a little too grown-up for your little ears. And that shiny lip gloss you try to sneak past me on the way to church? It’s a little too grown up for your pouty first-grade mouth.
Baby doll, I know this doesn’t make sense to you now. I know it seems like I’m being mean and arbitrary in my rules. I know you see other little girls your age doing the same things I say you’re too young to do. And while I’m not passing judgment on them or on their parents for allowing them to do those things, I have a responsibility to do what I feel is right for you.
As I always tell you, I’m not their mama. I’m your mama. And God has entrusted you to me for a reason. I have to do what I feel and know in my heart is best. And from my vantage point, on the other side of all the growing up you still have yet to do, I know that it’s just not time for you to embrace those grown-up things yet. It is time for you to be little. To play and grow and get dirty and take in the world through innocent eyes.
Because once those eyes are grown, it’s hard to get back the perspective you have now. Things will be different for you then, and you’ll wish in a lot of ways that you hadn’t rushed these innocent, carefree days. But you can’t go back. You can never go backwards in this game of growing.
I want you to embrace where you are now. I want you to love who you are now. I want you to see your reflection in the mirror and be 100% comfortable with the face looking back at you. You are in a beautiful, irreplaceable time of your life. Please don’t wish it away.
So honey, please trust me when I tell you no. I know it doesn’t make sense. I know that to you, they’re just cute high-heeled shoes. I know that to you, you just want to wear something pretty. But there is something bigger at work, and it’s my job as your mama to protect you as long as I can. Trust me when I say no. Trust me to do what I feel is best for you. Everything I do is for your good, honey.
When the time is right, I’ll go with you to buy your first pair of real high heels. They can be red patent leather, if you want. You’ll rock them. You’ll rock adulthood…you’ll rock this world….when you’re ready.
You’re my baby girl, no matter how big you get. Just don’t try to get big too soon.