Listen Up, Sweetheart.

Listen Up, Sweetheart.

I am sitting on the floor in my bedroom just outside the opened door of the bathroom where my five-year-old is taking a bath. I am folding clothes and listening to her play.

“I love you, sweetheart” I hear her say, followed by a “kissing” sound. I smile and hold back a giggle. I have no idea what she is doing.

“I love you sooo much. You are my sweetheart. My shining star.” More kissing sounds.

It is that moment when I realize I have heard these statements before. From me. To her.

“I love hanging out with you. You are so fun. And funny!” More kissing sounds.

Oh, dear. Hmmmm. I am wondering if I have overdone it. That’s when I hear…

“Even when you get into trouble, I will never stop loving you”

Oh, good. Some balance.

I wash her hair and get her out of the bath. She is a wet, slippery ball of belly laughter. We play games as I get her dressed. She loves to “fool me” by telling me someone is “over there” and when I look, she gives me a tickle on my neck or a raspberry blow on my arm.

She learned that trick from me. We are both tricky little devils, you see. Heehee.

“Turn on the music and dance with me, Mommy. Spin me around like you did before.” I search for youtube on my phone and find “Sorry-Not Sorry” by Demi Lovato. Life energy itself seems to surge straight through our limbs out into the air around us. Happy.

“Mommy, want to watch an American Girl movie, snuggle on the couch with a blanket, eat popcorn, and knit?” Nothing sounds better, sweet girl. Simple, sweet pleasures.

It is bedtime and I lay down beside her. She snuggles up next to me. She buries her face into my robe and takes a deep breath: “Mommy, I wish I could sleep with your robe. It smells like love.” I laugh. She starts to pray. She finishes: “And, God, we are cheering for you.” Strong, deep, childlike trust.

I lay there until her breathing slows and her head feels heavy on my chest. I slip out of her embrace and leave her room, smiling at the gift she is.

And, I have hope. High hopes. Hopes that more than good grades or athletic prowess my sweet girl grows a strong sense of self-love and self-care and self-LAUGHTER that overflows into the atmosphere and relationships around her. I hope she stays spunky and stubborn and fiercely loyal…first of all to herself. I hope she cherishes dance and laughter and simplicity and joy in each single moment…by moment by moment by moment.

And that as I participate with her…respond to her…follow her lead in so many ways…that she will teach me to do these things with a depth I have never experienced. That she will remind me…of joy.

So, I guess I have high hopes for me, too. And, for you, too, friend. The same ones, really.

High hopes, friend. Hopes that you talk to yourself like the kindest, sweetest friend or loved one in your life. That your innermost dialogue is like an internal, compassionate sweetheart giving you soul kisses and courage: “You are so fun. And funny! A shining star. You can do this. You are strong and tender and loving and fierce.”

I hope you take time to laugh and play games…and be a tricky little devil sometimes, too. And, that when you aren’t listening to your inner sweetheart leading you to take time, that you have people in your life who will remind you when you forget.

I hope you give yourself permission to savor simple pleasures. To breathe life in deep. To ask for what you want. To have enough hope and trust to pray.

And, if no parent ever helped you learn these things. If no parent ever spoke to you in a manner that laid the ground work for a strong, compassionate, internal dialogue.

If, for some reason, you are starting from scratch… I hope you do the deep, holy work of being your own parent…picking up where your parents left off…no matter how far back that might be. That you make self-love, self-care, and self-LAUGHTER a tenacious, holy priority. And that your life energy itself seems to surge straight through your limbs out into the air around you…all that love and care and laughter…overflowing into the atmosphere and relationships of your life.

I hope you stay…or become…spunky and stubborn and fiercely loyal…first of all to yourself.

I hope you cherish dance and laughter and simplicity and joy in each single moment…by moment by moment by moment.

I hope you let your inner sweetheart lead you to do these things with a depth you have never experienced…and reminding you…of joy.