Maria jumped off the high dive this afternoon. No floaties on her arms. No cajoling by her friends or lifeguards. Just pure desire and courage. She has always enjoyed the water but never had much of an interest in swimming or jumping. Her idea of swimming is laying your body in the water, head pointed to the sky, eyes closed, and chillin’. Recently, that idea has been flipped on its head. Maria has warped into a water monster. She loves to jump off the edge of the pool and swim to me. About two weeks ago, she tried out the low dive. I had to wait at the edge of the pool in order to help her swim over after she jumped but she did it. This week, while with our sitter, Megan, she went off the low dive and swam all by herself to the edge. It is like we are watching a caterpillar blossom into a butterfly. Then, today, she dove off the high dive! Tomorrow, I am worried she will be driving.
I was so ecstatic about Maria’s diving feat that I called Jon in Baltimore to tell him. He experienced the same awe that I had earlier. A few minutes into the conversation he lightly mentioned that “Maria is just like the daughter in that article you love.” His connection both impressed me (oh, he does listen to me!) and left me speechless. We hung up and I googled Anna Quindlen’s “I\’ll Never Stop Saying Maria. I read this when I was pregnant with Maria Grace. At the time, Jon and I had not decided on a girl’s name . We had Sophia and Grace in mind but neither of them made us too excited. After I read this article, Maria entered into the mix. The article described a love one mother had for her courageous, authentic daughter who dove off the diving board at age 3 and barreled off a cliff into the Caribbean at age 5. I remember telling Jon how much that line itself and the article in general struck me as I was getting ready to have a daughter. Anna Quindlen summed up the conflicting emotions of having a daughter well – trepidation along side hope and joy for the future (both hers and your own).
As I re-read the article, sentences brought tears to my eyes.
“If I were pressed for one word to describe my only daughter, it would be courageous.”
“She’s an authentic human being in a way I was not at 16, less good girl, more real person.”
“She makes me believe in evolution.”
“Being her mother is like playing basketball with a crack player (and she is that); she raises the level of the game of life by just showing up.”
These short quotes do no justice to the endearing article – a mother of a daughter just needs to read it herself. It moves you. It is an amazing sensation to experience your daughter getting older and taking chances, branching out, weighing risks and benefits. Our influence on her is transparent but she is forming her own little will and beliefs and it is both wrenching at times and absolutely exhilarating.