On potential

My oldest daughter turned thirteen last week. A paragraph lies in that statement alone. I mentioned my ambivalence about this particular birthday to a friend, and she reminded me,  All is as it should be. I swallowed her words whole, like medicine.

All is as it should be.

Our children grow and become more themselves and it is a beautiful thing. As I watch my girl become a woman, it strikes me how much time she has on her side. I look back at thirteen and I wish I could re-live the years with the full knowledge that the coming ones are mine for the taking. I can’t say I’d like to re-live everything about those years. I have a few boyfriends and an unfortunate hairstyle or two I’d like to forget. But, at thirteen, I didn’t know a universe of potential sat waiting on the inside–waiting for me to say the word, call it out, and make it so. I didn’t know it at twenty, and I only just began to believe it at thirty. And at thirty-seven? I now have days when I believe the lie that the best years have passed, and all of my potential with them.

I want my thirteen year old to know that within her lies a universe. She’s filled with unexplored galaxies and the light of the Son and her potential is endless. Someday, she will come to believe it. I hope she learns this truth sooner than her mother. I don’t want her to look back and regret anything more than a fashion faux pas. I hope she sees how every choice, every turning, every journey is an exploration of who she can be.

For now, she grows and I watch. She believes this is the fullness of life, right here and now, thirteen years in. I will gently remind her this is merely the beginning, she has a universe to explore. She will consider me hopelessly foolish, and I will sigh with pleasure.

All is as it should be.