05/15/2015 10:30 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Don't Grow Up, Grow Beautifully

She came to me yesterday, my daughter. She handed me a piece of paper. She told me she had written me a shopping list. I was busy. I was preparing the family meals for the week. I thanked her for the list and placed it on the bench. I caught a glimpse of her as I went to chop up a carrot. She was looking at me, expectantly. I glanced down at the list and stopped mid-chop.

On that little piece of paper were the perfectly imperfectly-formed letters of a 4-year-old. I was awestruck. She continued to grin at me, her eyes pleading with me to acknowledge her.

I picked up the piece of paper as tears started to sting my eyes. Those letters were proof that my baby is growing up. I looked at her, my strong, spirited, joyful girl and said, bursting with pride, "When did you learn to write?" She gave me a non-nonchalant smirk and shrugged her shoulders.

Tears pinged my eyes as I smiled at her. I shared, "This is making me cry." Her face dropped. "Why Mummy? What's wrong?" she whispered quietly. "Because you are growing up."

She laughed and said, "That's silly, Mum. I'm not growing up, see look!" and she placed her hand on her head, "I'm still the same."

I pulled her in close and said, "No, you're not growing up, you're growing beautifully. Every day I get to watch you grow a little more beautiful. You're learning kindness, you're learning generosity, you're learning empathy, you're learning patience and now you are even learning letters. You are growing into the most beautiful person I know."

She smiled wistfully as she rested her head on my shoulder. She needed to hear these words. I needed to say these words and remember that as my child grows, I can help her not just to grow up, but to grow beautifully and the first way I can do that is to acknowledge her. Put her first when it counts. Slow down and listen. See what it is she is trying to tell me. And show her love. Let her know she counts and she is loved.

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I Have a Daughter With Intense Emotions ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)

The Hard Truth About Parenting ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)