When I’m reading books, I notice words that authors repeat frequently.
Years ago, for example, I read a volume of inspirational romance novellas from the Crossings Book Club. I don’t recall any of the authors, I just remember that a character in one of them “sniffed appreciatively” at least three or four times.
This phrase stood out to me because, as a reader with an editing background, I found it rather distracting. Other times, though, I notice repeated words because I can relate to them in some way.
That was the case last year, when I read several books by an author who used the phrase “her heart squeezed” when a character experienced a poignant, welling up of emotion that she found difficult to express.
I’m pretty sure I’ve never sniffed appreciatively, but this heart-squeezing business has become quite a regular occurrence as I watch younger daughter Molly glide toward her teenage years.
The way I think of “heart squeezing” has nothing to do with cardiac events or chest pain. But it can—and very often does—have the effect of taking my breath away.
That’s why, while other bloggers may be writing about their OneWords for 2017 or compiling lists of favorite moments from 2016, I’m sharing something else this week.
You see, 11 years ago this very day, Randy and I met Molly for the first time. We were in Guanghzou, China, and she was just a few days shy of 13 months old.
It’s sometimes tough to watch the video from that first meeting because our sweet little pumpkin cried her eyes out through most of it. Knowing her as we do now, it makes perfect sense that she would react to us that way. She goes deep in her relationships, and it takes her a while to adjust to new people and new situations.
Back then, we had no inkling of all the personality, creativity and ability God hardwired into our daughter. We’re still learning, but we have a much better understanding now.
And yes, it makes my heart squeeze. A lot.
Molly recently turned 12, and while she seems to be growing super fast at times, she’s also still little in many wonderful ways. This is something I’ve been savoring these last few years, precisely because I know it won’t last forever.
I don’t know when she will grab my hand in a parking lot for the last time, so whenever she does, I make it a point to enjoy it.
I don’t know when she will stop playing with the 15 Lego Friends sets that are spread out all over the upstairs hallway, so instead of getting annoyed at the “mess,” I smile as I carefully step through the landmarks of Heartlake City.
I could give other examples, but if you are blessed to have children as a regular part of your life—students, nieces and nephews, sons and daughters, grandkids, neighbors, etc.—perhaps you know what I mean.
You usually don’t realize a child is doing something for the last time until he or she doesn’t do it anymore. It’s too late to enjoy it then, but it’s not too late when it’s still happening.
So you stop and savor. And your heart squeezes again.
I’ve been thinking about what to say in this post for a long time—ever since I realized Molly’s Gotcha Day was on a Tuesday this year. Now that I’m actually writing it, I’m finding that the very nature of heart-squeezing feelings makes them hard to put into words. This makes me want to ditch any attempt at fancy writing and just tell you what I love about my girl.
I love how she changed the spelling of her name in fifth grade (from “Molly” to “Mollie”) because she wanted to do something different, but not too different. I love that, after years of dreading the start of school in the fall, she jumped out of the van on the first day of middle school and never looked back.
I love that she is a textbook introvert who is more self-aware than most adults I know. I love that, although she’s quiet and subtle—kind of like a gentle whisper, actually—she likes to rock out to TobyMac and the Trans Siberian Orchestra.
I love her techie nature, and how she always seems to find a solution to any problem I might have with my computer or phone. I love how she always remembers what I forget. I love the many creative uses she finds for string, wire, Legos and paperclips.
I love how she can make herself comfortable absolutely anywhere, and how she likes to build forts in the living room when she has a few days off school.
I love that her favorite food is rice and that she never met a variety of vinegar she didn’t like (and request to drink straight). I love that she’s teaching herself how to crochet by watching YouTube videos. I love her affinity for stuffed animals and soft blankets.
I love that she sends me emails during the day from her school iPad. I love that she signed up for this blog on her own and sometimes even leaves me comments.
I love her hugs.
I love her laugh.
I love that she is my daughter.
Happy Gotcha Day, Mollers.