As the weeks get busier and the years shorter, these letters become few and far between. I blinked and you turned three, with the most beautiful long, blonde hair and a personality to take over the world. The days of holding you in my arms are dwindling faster than I can handle.
Fast forward to your first Christmas play at church, on the night of December 10, 2016. As big and bold as your personality is at home, you have always been the little shy one. Even in a room full of familiar faces, you shut down if the crowd is too big. You panic if someone is looking at you as we walk down the grocery store aisle or jog on the trail, and your world comes to an end if you think someone is laughing at you (they never are).
So imagine my worry when you began talking about the Christmas musical, and I realized that you would be on stage this year instead of sitting with me in the audience. I couldn’t imagine you taking your love of singing and dancing in front of a crowd. I knew you would get on stage, take one look at an full auditorium with eyes all on you, and it would be over. My heart felt heavy with the burden of knowing the fear I couldn’t stop you from experiencing, and the scars that would follow. I wanted to protect you, to assure you that I knew the feeling all too well, and to say it was okay. It was okay to be shy and protected and guarded.
A week or so before the performance, I started preparing you for the stage. We talked about how many people would be there, the bright lights shining down, and what it might feel like to be the center of attention in a room so big. I told Logan to stay close in case you needed to hold his hand for comfort. I reminded you where I would be sitting, so that you could look at me instead of the audience. I did and said everything I could think of to protect your fragile spirit.
On the night of the play I took a deep breath, hugged you a little tighter than usual, and sent you off to get ready. I found my seat with a good view for recording, and with easy access to rescue you from the stage. My heart was racing as I watched the clock slowly creep toward 6:00. Finally, I saw your teachers and friends making their way to the front, with you following along in the middle of the line. Logan was a little ways behind, just out of reach for comfort and hand-holding. My heart raced a little faster.
You reached the stage, front and center, and I saw you look up at the crowd. Nothing. I looked for any emotion on your face, good or bad, but I found nothing. I held my breath. With much anticipation the music began… and then one of the greatest moments of my life happened.
Not only did you dance and sing your heart out, you stole the show! While the other preschoolers quickly lost interest and did their own thing, you focused on your teacher leading the motions in the audience and never missed a beat. Tears of relief and pure joy rolled down my face. I can’t imagine ever being more proud of you than I was in that moment.
For so long I’ve worried that fear would control your life and you would miss out on so much. Yet here you were, shining on stage like you were meant to be there. My shy, beautiful, petite little girl owning the spotlight.
I promise to never doubt you again. I will support you and encourage you and clap louder than anyone in the room, but never again will I think you don’t have what it takes. Because, clearly, you do. You were born for the stage.
Forever your biggest cheerleader,